Arsenal have joined fellow Premier League giants Manchester United in the race for James Rodriguez’ signature in the upcoming summer transfer window.
According to Lee Astley of The Sun, the Gunners have made an offer for the out-of-favour Colombian. The exact amount tabled by the North Londoners is unknown, but it is reportedly lesser than what Real Madrid want for the 25-year-old playmaker.
James was left out of the squad for Real’s Champions League final against Juventus despite having trained the previous day with the rest of the first team. This is the second Champions League final he has missed, having been left on the bench during last year’s victory against Atletico Madrid.
The former AS Monaco playmaker has made only 33 appearances this term and has started only 20 of those games. Over the course of the year, Rodriguez has constantly been linked away with a move from the Santiago Bernabeu due to lack of game time.
He has had to compete with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale, Casemiro, Isco and youngsters Marco Asensio & Lucas Vazquez, who have broken into the first team, for the place in Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI.
He was linked with a move away from the Spanish capital last summer, but decided to stay on and fight for a place in the squad. But he has made only 1 more appearance this season than he did in the 2015/16 season, so it would suffice to say that his position at the club hasn’t improved.
It is unlikely that he will continue to settle for a place on the fringes and both he and the club will be aware of his many possible suitors. Manchester United were reported to have initiated talks with the European Champions and Los Blancos are demanding £60 million for the player.
The Red Devils are keen on adding to their already formidable midfield rank which consists of the likes of Mkhitaryan, Mata, Pogba & Lingard and James was also reportedly keen to move to Old Trafford to link up with Jose Mourinho.
Last month, it was reported that Real Madrid could also use James as a part of a player+cash deal to convince Manchester United to part with David De Gea. However, the UEFA Europa League Champions will now have to compete with Premier League rivals Arsenal for his signature.
The Gunners have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years and that will without a doubt make it difficult for them to lure top class talent to the club. To further compound their problems, they risk losing both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil this summer.
Neither player has agreed to a new contract with the club and with both their contracts expiring next year, Wenger risks losing his star duo for free to the club of their choosing. Earlier it was reported that the Gunners would only make a bid for James, if Sanchez left the club in the summer – something that now looks increasingly likely.
While he would serve as a direct replacement for Ozil, Wenger would do extremely well to lure Rodriguez to the Emirates in the summer even if Ozil or Sanchez stay. Not only would it significantly boost the quality in their squad, it would also reassure the fans and send out a message of intent to their rivals.
By signing Sead Kolasinac, the Gunners are on the right track, but it is clear that Arsenal have to flex their financial muscle and dig as deep as possible in order to hold on to their stars and bring in new ones in a bid to ensure a swift return to the top four next season.