James Rodriguez: A signing of intent, or an unnecessary one?

Following James Rodriguez’s supposed waving goodbye to the fans last night in what looks to be his final appearance at the Bernabeu, Manchester United are reportedly in pole position to sign the attacking midfielder. Following the failure to nail down a place in Zidane’s starting XI alongside the rise of the new Madrid midfielder Asensio, it seems as though Rodriguez is looking for a club that is willing to offer him some minutes which can be potentially found with Manchester United. Despite starting just 13 league games this season, Rodriguez has still managed to score 8 goals and provide 6 assists. These statistics would make him the second top scorer and join top for assists in the current United team but despite this, some fans have voiced their discontent at the potential signing of the Colombian – so is he a good signing, or more importantly is he a necessary one?

What would he add to the team?

If you are a frequent watcher of Real Madrid, or even those who watched the 2014 World Cup, you will not need to be reminded of the technical ability that Rodriguez possesses. A flamboyant and versatile attacking midfielder, the Colombian is recognised for his quality on the ball in carving out chances for his team mates operating in an advanced playmaker role, whilst also maintaining as a goal threat anywhere on the field. Although not being gifted with rapid pace, Rodriguez is still recognised for his agile dribbling and no doubt has gained the reputation as being one of the best attacking midfielders in the game due to his well rounded style of play.

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Whilst predominantly favouring to operate in this No.10 position behind the striker, it seems as though Rodriguez would be taking the role over from Juan Mata, or perhaps sacrificing one of the central midfield three and thus change United’s structure into a more attacking shape. Having just started 21 games in all competitions for Madrid this season, but still managing to maintain an impressive record of 11 goals alongside 13 assists, there is no doubt that Rodriguez is an effective player in that position and could potentially be the answer to United’s goal scoring problems.

Although he can also operate on either wing it must be said that United have too much of a tendency to utilise their versatile players over-extensively, so much so that we struggle to recognise some players’ best position, such as Mkhitaryan. If Rodriguez were to be signed, then he must be deployed in his best position, as United have struggled for goals from the midfield area all season. Perhaps at Madrid, Rodriguez failed to flourish as he was more of a ‘small fish in a big pond,’ whereas admittedly in a United squad short of world class ability, Old Trafford may serve as the perfect place to kick start the Colombians career.

Is he needed?

Although there is no denying Rodriguez’s quality, many fans have however publicised their discontent at his potential arrival with this displeasure predominantly stemming from the fact that we have too similar style of player in both Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan. The question does of course rise from how much extra of an impact will Rodriguez have on the team over these two players, as all three can operate in this No.10 role. Both Rodriguez and Mata have an almost identical impact on the teams they play in with regards to making their side tick through being tidy in possession, creating space and chances through their fluidity and also both possessing that attacking instinct with getting into the box in search of a goal. The only way the Rodriguez transfer would make sense would be from the fact of Mourinho simply rating the Colombian more than the ever-trustworthy Spaniard.

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On the other hand, there is always the alternative of playing Rodriguez out on the right as United fans have rather comically pointed out: how can any fan question the signing of Rodriguez when we have Jesse Lingard in the team? Although this may sound harsh, when you compare the two’s attacking output for their teams, Lingard’s one league goal and two assists are rather mere in comparison to Rodriguez’s. Although the Colombian can operate on the right or left flank one must question if this were the case at United, why spend all this money on another attacking midfielder to play on the wing? Evidently, United need a new and exhilarating winger to inject fear back into their front line, and when there is talent such as Bernardo Silva and Julian Brandt out there for a similar price, why spend so much on a player to not utilise his full strengths?

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Evidently, United fans seem split on the Rodriguez transfer, as whilst some see it as unnecessary money being spent, others cannot look past his undeniable quality. Ultimately, the welcoming of Rodriguez will depend on his price tag. Despite only being 25, one would question if he were to arrive with a hefty price tag of around £60m as although he would add quality, it would seem rather bizarre to spend so much on a position where United do hold depth. On the other hand, if he were to arrive in the region of £30-35m, or perhaps in a trade deal with De Gea, then the deal surely makes sense. In a season where United have struggled for goals and special moments from individuals, whilst also possessing a heavily depleted squad, then the signing of a flamboyant midfielder such as James Rodriguez is sure to inject some excitement back into the team.

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