The international break has not been a kind one for James Rodriguez. At the same time that Bayern Munich announced the playmaker would miss “several weeks” due to an LCL tear, there was speculation that the club have already decided not to sign the Real Madrid loanee on a permanent basis when his deal expires at the end of the season.
Though a return to Madrid has also been mooted, it seems more likely that come next summer, James will be playing for his third club in four years. But where?
Here’s a look at the potential destinations for the Colombian star.
The Partenopei are looking to get over the hump after years of chasing down Juventus in vain. James is just the sort of player who could help close the gap – a gap that’s only gotten bigger since Cristiano Ronaldo‘s arrival in Turin.
Any fee might not be prohibitive – Napoli were able to recruit Ancelotti, after all, and a player not wanted by his parent club could go for a lower transfer fee than expected. And the Serie A could use another A-list star to go up against Ronaldo.
Or, of course, James could just join the top dogs. The Colombian was one of Ronaldo’s favourite teammates at Madrid, so if he’s on the move, Ronaldo might try to persuade his club to sign the playmaker.
What’s that? Juventus already have one? Well, imagine a front three of Ronaldo, James, and Paulo Dybala. Douglas Costa might be the only one unhappy at such a prospect – but would Juve even consider that a problem?
And on the off chance that they’re forced to sell Dybala – he’s been attracting a lot of attention over the last year, and has been open about the prospect of leaving Juve – James would be a ready-made replacement.
James to Manchester United has been mooted before, and it’s easy to see why. The team have been lacking a creator of the former Monaco star’s calibre for some time now, and someone who could relieve the burden on Paul Pogba, and partner with the Frenchman, would be a welcome addition.
He’ll turn 28 next summer, and spending an exorbitant fee on a player of that age goes against the philosophy of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the club’s owners. But James is good enough to merit an exception.
Any concerns over whether he’d be able to handle the defensive responsibilities entrusted to him by Jose Mourinho – if the Portuguese remains in charge – should be allayed by the role he’s played for his national team. Colombia’s recent rise has come off the back of a tremendous work rate, and James has been integral to their success.
Chelsea have been linked with Christian Pulisic in recent days, and given that the American is 20, his youth is an advantage over James.
On the other hand, the senior man is also a far more proven player, and given Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s desire for instant returns, splashing the cash on James may in fact be the smarter play.
Even more so if Eden Hazard leaves next summer. James would then be a perfect replacement – and Chelsea could still go and get Pulisic just to be safe.
Both Milan clubs are a possibility, but Inter are just slightly the better fit at the moment. They’re already a top-four side in the Serie A, and the next step is to challenge Juventus for domestic superiority, while becoming even more competitive against the rest of Europe’s best sides.
James is the sort of player Inter would target to help with their mission. He’d be a similar signing to the one nearly pulled off this summer, when they were trying to lure Luka Modric away from Real Madrid. Signing Modric’s former teammate would be just as much of a statement – and establish them as genuine title challengers.
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