The Christmas season is upon us and Children all over the world will be waking up to see their presents under the Christmas tree. I remember when I was a kid; parents and teachers in school would tell me “A puppy isn’t just for Christmas, its for life!”. I never ended up getting a puppy.I used to get a Action Man, a Batman figure or one time I got a bike! That was a sweet present.
Real Madrid supporters are like the kid who wanted a puppy for Christmas. It seems every year puppies named Kaka, Ozil, Di Maria, and most recently James Rodriguez were bought by “Daddy” Florentino Perez to keep the Madrid supporters happy. But after a while fans get bored and want a new puppy. So Kaka, Ozil and Angel Di Maria were sent to slightly poorer families. It seems the same fate is set for James Rodriguez.
James rose to fame following the 2014 World Cup where he lead his Columbia side to the Quarter final stage. He scored 6 goals in five games and assisted two goals. James also scored the goal of the tournament against Uruguay. Messi won the golden ball as player of the tournament but, James was the player everyone was talking about. It wasn’t long before Real Madrid came in and swooped up James from Monaco for 80 million euro’s. James had a good first season at Madrid. He scored 17 goals in his first season and also had an incredible record of scoring 4 of his first 8 free kicks at Real Madrid (before Ronaldo started blazing them over the crossbar again). In his second season, Rafa Benitez took over as manager at Madrid and James was the player to suffer. Benitez preferred to play with a deep lying midfielder and James was dropped to the bench as an impact sub. Injuries also took there toll and by the time Zidane took over in January 2016 and James was barely a starter. He played a small role in Madrids 2016 Champions league win and did not feature at all in the 2016 World Club Championship.
This has lead to James being the number 1 target in the January Transfer Window for the big European clubs. I personally don’t see James going to China, Germany or Italy. PSG has just signed Julian Draxler. So Real Madrid will be looking to the Premier League to sell there Columbian superstar. James is no longer the puppy under the Christmas tree, he is a full grown Labrador and is looking for a home in England.
To find the perfect home for James while keeping agents and clubs happy could be tricky. In terms of playing style, James is basically an upgraded version of Dimitri Payet except very one footed. He also has the Steven Gerard “Hero Ball” mentality which leads to him scoring important and spectacular goals. James for Madrid and James for Columbia are completely different beasts. James performs best when the attacking play flows through him but, this was never really the case at Madrid when he had Bale and Ronaldo in his team. I’ve picked 4 teams that could go for James either in this January or in the summer. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs.
‘The not so long shot’ – Arsenal
Arsenal are approaching a crossroads for the first time in over twenty years. They must decide do they want stay a “top 4 team” or do they want to contend with the big boys and actually push for titles. This all comes down to whether Stan Kroenke wants to splash the cash or not. Staying as a “top 4 team” would mean keeping Wenger and possibly signing Sanchez or Ozil to new contracts (Ozil doesn’t deserve a bigger contract but that will undoubtedly be discussed on the PUPcast in the coming weeks). Becoming a serious title contender would mean a new manager, signing Sanchez and Ozil to new contracts and signing James. Depending on who the new manager would be, the style of play would vary. But historically good players find a way to make it work and a front line of Ozil, James, Walcott and Sanchez would contend with any team in Europe. I admit this is a long shot but, if this is Wengers last season and James is available next summer I could see this happening.
‘The perfect fit’ – Chelsea
James has already been heavily linked to Chelsea and the sale of Oscar to Shanghai has only fueled the rumors. In Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system James will be able to play to his strengths. He’ll be able to play off a big clinical striker in Costa and the movement with Hazard will give him time and space to pick passes and get shots off. He also won’t be expected to do too much defensively because Kante and Matic will do all the dirty work. The fact Chelsea are already running away with the Premier League and will definitely be in the Champions League next year will all be big factors as to why James will probably end up in Chelsea.
‘We have too much Money and too little sense’ fit – Manchester United
It’s no secret in recent years Manchester United has been run like a 12 year old’s career mode in Fifa. United have bought players like Di Maria, Falcao, Schweinsteiger, Depay, Schneiderlin and Darmian but, they all either leave or the manager ends up playing Jones, Carrick and Valencia instead. Its incredible when you look at the players United have bought in the last 3 years and then see the team United put out for a premier league game. Nevertheless, James to United could realistically happen. Not because it would be a good fit for James. It really wouldn’t be a good fit, United already have too many centre attacking midfielders and Mikhataryn has barely played at all this season. The reason United could sign James is because United just want to spend money and be in Kierans words “A shit Real Madrid”. James agent, Jorge Mendes has strong connections with United and more interestingly with Jose Mourinho. United have already signed Mendes clients such as Falcao as a bargain chip to keep De Gea at Old Trafford before. Don’t be surprised if James is at Old Trafford next season for all the wrong reasons.
‘This isn’t going to happen but, it would be a lot of fun’ fit – Tottenham Hotspur
Okay this is a long shot. It probably won’t happen and Spurs probably don’t have the money to sign him. But, this would be a great move for Spurs and fans of the Premier League. This season the only problem this Spurs team has, is creating chances and scoring goals. They have one of the best defenses in the Premier League even though there first choice centre backs were missing most of the season. There midfield of Dembele and Wanyama are incredibly solid and they have one of the best strikers in the league in Harry Kane. The only thing that is holding Spurs back from being a legitimate title contender is a top number 10. Spurs haven’t had a really good centre attacking midfielder since Rafael Van der Vaart and I haven’t always been a fan of Christian Eriksen. I honestly don’t think he is good enough for a title contending team. If you replace Eriksen with James then you have a team that can legitimately win the Premier league. Spurs probably wouldn’t be able to pull this move off but, maybe Daniel Levy has some connections since the Gareth Bale deal?
A player of James Rodriguez talent will always get interest from Premier League clubs. From the four teams I picked I feel Arsenal and Spurs need him more then James needs them. Manchester United will try and throw 70 million at him in the summer but Chelsea will probably get there man if not in January, then definitely in the summer. Although its kind of sad that the Premier League is now the home for Madrid and Barca rejects (Ozil, Di Maria, Pedro and Sanchez for example) Chelsea are undoubtedly the right home for this unwanted Labrador.
For more, Listen to the PUPcast here.