It’s safe to say that James Rodriguez’s career hasn’t quite taken off the way many thought it would following the 2014 World Cup. The Colombian emerged as one of the brightest young talents in the world during the competition in Brazil, but his club career has stalled in the years since. He’s still one of the most recognizable faces in the game, but he has yet to become a superstar the way Real Madrid may have hoped when they made a big-money move to secure his signature in the summer of ‘14.
However, some high-profile clubs still believe the talent is there. Real’s intracity rivals, Atletico Madrid, are reportedly keen on a move for the Colombian attacker this summer. For his part, Rodriguez is reportedly interested in the switch, as well.
Moving for James would not make Atletico betting favorites to win La Liga next season, but it would help Diego Simeone’s side close the gap on Barcelona. As of this writing, Atletico Madrid are listed at 16/1 (click the following link to learn about more ways to bet on football) to win La Liga next season, which puts them behind Barca (⅙) and Real Madrid (3/1).
Earlier in the summer, Bayern Munich declined the option to sign Rodriguez on a permanent basis following his 2-year loan spell in Germany. Zinedine Zidane reportedly has no plans to include the player in his team for the upcoming season, which means he may well be on the move before the summer transfer window slams shut.
Napoli were a side that had also registered interest. That move would reunite Rodriguez with former manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has previously worked with James at both Real and Bayern. However, Real were reportedly asking for more than Napoli were willing to offer, so Rodriguez remains at the Bernabeu.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said last week that Rodriguez wants to play for Napoli, but Real’s restrictive asking price nixed a potential deal. De Laurentiis said, “James wants to play for Napoli, but Madrid are asking for too much money.”
According to ESPN, Atletico have been working diligently behind the scenes in an attempt to come up with enough money to satisfy their La Liga rivals’ asking price. Any deal would reportedly cost around the €42 million it cost Bayern to secure James on loan from Real back in 2017.
Atletico have already spent in excess of €200 million in the summer transfer window, but they believe more reinforcements are needed if Barcelona is going to be challenged for the league title. Atletico set a new club record by signing Portugal international Joao Felix for €126 million. However, high-profile departures like Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) and Rodri (Manchester City) have left the club with enough funds to secure one more big-name signing.
We don’t often see players move back-and-forth from Real to Atletico or vice versa, but Marco Llorente did make the move to the Wanda Metropolitano from the Bernabeu earlier in the summer. Atletico paid Real €40 million for his signature.
Both Madrid clubs are also reportedly interested in midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who has seen his stock rise considerably following impressive performances at the international level for the Spanish U-21 side earlier in the summer. Ruiz earned Player of the Tournament honors, and he has subsequently become a hot commodity. The 23-year-old is currently under contract with Napoli after having played in Spain for Real Betis earlier in his career.
Real made the splashiest signing of the summer by luring Eden Hazard from Chelsea earlier this summer, but Zidane is hoping to bring in more talent in an attempt to bring Real out of the doldrums. Zidane reportedly has his sights set on disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who certainly wouldn’t come cheap. Selling a player like James would help free up more money for Real to spend on Pogba, who was the most expensive signing in the world when United signed him away from Juventus in the summer of 2016.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez reportedly flew with the team’s primary negotiator, Lose Angel Sanchez, to the club’s preseason training ground in Montreal over the weekend with a number of players’ futures still up in the air. In addition to James, it is unknown how much longer players like Keylor Navas and Gareth Bale will remain with the club.