Is James Rodriguez finally Manchester United bound?

Image result for james rodriguez manchester united
Image from the Sun
It seems that every transfer window since 2015, James Rodriguez has been linked with a move to Manchester United after the rises of Isco and Asensio have pushed the Colombian away from the starting XI. In a search for consistent first team football, he sealed a two-year loan deal to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2017 and gave Munich the option to purchase him from Los Blancos for a fee of around £36m. However, Rodriguez requested for Bayern not to exercise this clause and has returned to Real Madrid, seeking other options. While reports indicate PSG, Napoli and Chinese clubs are all interested in the World Cup 2014 Golden Boot winner, Manchester United may reignite their long-term interest in the Colombian in their aim to rebuild the squad after such an awful season. Here's all you need to know about Rodriguez:

Fact File:
Name: James Rodriguez
DOB: 12/07/1991 (27 years old)
Nationality: Colombian
Current Club: Real Madrid

Stats in all competitions (from transfermarkt.co.uk):
Porto:
2010/11: 32 apps, 6 goals, 18 assists
2011/12: 38 apps, 14 goals, 11 assists
2012/13: 38 apps, 12 goals, 12 assists
His stint at Porto is one of his most prolific stints. Bought at 19 years of age for around £4.3m from Banfield, he won the Europa League in his first season at the club and went on to win three titles, the Taca de Portugal (domestic cup) and the Supertaca Candido de Oliveira (Portugal's Community Shield). 

Monaco:
2013/14: 38 apps, 10 goals, 14 assists
His form for Porto earned him a €45m move to AS Monaco in which he, while failing to earn a trophy in his debut and only season for Les Rouges et Blancs, he created the most number of assists in Ligue 1 and featured in the Ligue 1 TOTS. 

Real Madrid:
2014/15: 46 apps, 17 goals, 18 assists
2015/16: 32 apps, 8 goals, 10 assists
2016/17: 33 apps, 11 goals, 12 assists
After starring in the World Cup for Colombia, James Rodriguez was rewarded with a dream move to Real Madrid for a stunning fee of £63m which was the fourth highest transfer fee at the time, behind the transfers for Suarez (£65m), Ronaldo (£80m) and Bale (£85m). His debut season was a stunning one for his personal tallies and was nominated La Liga's best midfielder that year but only managed to win the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in that season. The next season would prove to be more difficult for the Colombian and struggled to start regularly as his side won the Champions League and began the rumours that he would move away from the Bernabeu and potentially to Old Trafford. Although James improved his stats and won La Liga, the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, he demanded more game time under Zinedine Zidane.

Bayern Munich:
2017/18: 39 apps, 8 goals, 14 assists
2018/19: 28 apps, 7 goals, 6 assists
He sealed his loan move to Bayern Munich in early July 2017 amid rumours that he would join Manchester United growing ever louder. He had a successful debut season as the Bundesliga remained in Bavaria and proved himself as a consistent starter. The next season proved more difficult as, despite winning the domestic double that season, he was limited to a mere 28 appearances with his lowest scoring season since 2010/11. 
TOTAL: 324 apps, 93 goals, 115 assists (approx. 0.64 goals scored/assisted a game)

What would he bring to Manchester United?
James Rodriguez is first and foremost a no.10. He likes to play in an advanced role and operate in the spaces behind the back line. This is a position Manchester United have struggled with since allowing Rooney to leave with Lingard and Mata being the preferred options in that role but the former cannot pass well enough to play in that role and the latter hasn't got the legs to start as a no.10 consistently. James would be perfect for this role as he can feed the ball to the forwards such as Martial, James, Rashford and Lukaku (should he stay) and hopefully end United's struggle to create clear-cut chances. He is a leader, which is something United are seriously lacking, as he has captained Colombia since 2016 and could be big voice in the United dressing room. He is also a fantastic set-piece taker whether taking a corner or a freekick and may thankfully prevent Ashley Young from hitting the first man from his deliveries! 

How would he fit into the United team?
He would be perfect for the 4-3-1-2 formation that Ole has used a few times last season as he could fit into the false 9 position and create chances for the two forwards. He could also be used in a conventional no.10 role in a 4-2-3-1 or even as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3. He could be a replacement for Paul Pogba, should he leave for Juventus this summer and would prove to be cheaper than either Christian Eriksen (£100m) or James Maddison (£60m) at the price of around £35m. 

Should United look elsewhere?
While his stats show he is a prolific playmaker, his last season for Bayern was not too fruitful in relation to his goal contribution and was a result of both injuries and, at times, a lack of form. Another issue is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking for young talents instead of already proven players as has been a crucial principle for Manchester United and although James would be cheaper than the younger options, he would not be a long-term solution. Not to mention that the majority of high-profile players seem to struggle at United, those such as Mkhitaryan, Sanchez, Di Maria and Schweinsteiger have not clicked at the club and while some had good runs of form, it never lasted a whole season. 

Conclusion
I believe Rodriguez would be a good signing as it seems Maddison is not likely to move on one season after joining Leicester and so could buy him in the next two years and allow James to play the no.10 role United desperately need in the meantime with Mata as a solid replacement until the Spaniard is likely let go within the next two seasons. While it is necessary to buy young talents, experience and leadership are crucial characteristics that James possesses and could have a big role in the seasons to come.

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