Manchester United has long been a favourite club when the, mainly, Spanish media have wanted to talk up a James Rodriguez transfer. That James is represented by Gestifute has been a lever behind that, especially since Jose Mourinho rocked up at Old Trafford.
Ed Woodward has worked closely with Jorge Mendes, the super-agent represents Mourinho, and the lines of communication are very much open.
In March 2016, El Confidencial, who have a good record with Real Madrid outgoings, reported that Jorge Mendes had contacted clubs about James, in an effort to drum up business. No clubs were mentioned, but whilst El Confidencial were setting the scene, others in Spain were naming any side remotely plausible.
Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, PSB, Bayern Munich… all the usual suspects were in there, and it often seemed without much reason.
James continued where he was. There’s been grumbles, lots of them. There had been previously, with James and Isco characterised almost as Kevin & Perry by sections of the Madrid press. The immature pair weren’t behaving well, were sulking together, and generally not putting in the effort and attitude required at Real Madrid.
Isco has managed to turn things around, albeit partly thanks to injuries, but James is still on the naughty step. Comments in December from James talked up a possible exit, and it wasn’t the first time the Colombian had spoken out.
This will not be lost on Florentino Perez, and as Isco is pulled more into the fold, it in turn pushes his friend further away.
A few days ago Colombian radio station RCN claimed an agreement in principle between James and Manchester United on a summer move. There was nothing claimed between the two clubs, with Perez waiting until the end of the season to make his mind up.
Wayne Rooney was dragged into the story, with it being claimed the former England captain leaving would be essential to the move. That was later explained as an Adidas requirement, with James having to wear the No.10 at any club he plays.
That simply doesn’t wash. Sure, Adidas may prefer James wears the No.10, but it’s hard to believe they’d prevent a move to Manchester United, where he’d surely be a bigger cog, over the number.
The RCN claims led to repeated stories in Spain and, at the weekend, James appeared to say goodbye to the Bernabeu. Whilst this kind of thing is often claimed, James did look like he was making a special effort.
Indeed, so special was his effort to look sad, James’ message could have easily been to Perez instead: Don’t force me out, I love it here.
The actual reason for the solemn acting can be decided afterwards, and perhaps that’s the plan.
That brings us to Gol Caracol, who are likely best remembered in England for their insistence Falcao would join Chelsea. He did in the end, just several years after the claims.
Caracol, like RCN, are a big deal in Colombia, and their claim is James could be announced as a Manchester United player this weekend. A source has told them the move can be made public when Real Madrid have played their final league match, which is away to Malaga on Sunday evening.
Relatives of James have been quoted talking up a move, even a Colombian Olympic official has had his say on it in the Spanish press. What did he say? Baltazar Medina wants James to play on a team where he’s more important, the same wish as the player’s stepfather.
In Colombia and Spain the deal has been priced at around €75m, about £65m, which is conveniently the same figure as the higher end David De Gea price. There’s a way for everyone to win in this, or at least to insist they’ve won.
Madrid wouldn’t want to pay €75m for a goalkeeper, Manchester United would feel €75m was overpriced for James, there’s wriggle room on both sides for the figures.
Manchester United are the convenient destination and whilst it may be hard to believe a deal is as done as suggested, it’s very easy to imagine the scenario of Mendes offering James to Ed & Jose.
And to fit with this, a year and a couple of months after their report mentioned earlier in this article, El Confidencial are essentially reporting the same thing again. James is pretty much available, but as yet there’s no concrete route.
What is likely to happen now, if James to Manchester United isn’t announced on Sunday or Monday, is reports will twist to say the confirmation is actually due at the end of Real Madrid’s season. That’s June 3rd.
Should all this develop into reality then Mourinho would have to find a place for the 25 year old, and that would depend how he sets up. James can play on the left, right, or through the middle, but if the move was sold to him as being the main man, he’s likely to prefer a more central role at this stage in his career.
If Manchester United want James Rodriguez, it’s easy to assume he’s likely going to end up at Old Trafford, but Jorge may have to wheel out his best pitch for Jose.