Not for the first time, Liverpool have been linked with Real Madrid midfielder and Colombian international James Rodríguez. It seems like just yesterday that James was turning heads at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and sending transfer market speculators into overdrive. At the time, the player had expressed a strong desire to play for Spanish giants Real Madrid, who promptly turned that dream into a reality via a deal with AS Monaco rumored to be worth more than £63 million.
Now, according to reports from the Mirror, Liverpool could once again be in the frame for the young playmaker’s services as they look to take significant strides in 2017-18. All it would take is apparently the simple matter of securing qualification for the Champions League. Oh and about £65 million. Setting aside those two minor details, the Red half of Merseyside has a great shot of landing James.
The current flurry of rumors surrounding James appears to have been kicked up due to the confluence of factors. On the one hand, we have Real Madrid’s purported interest in prying Eden Hazard away from Stamford Bridge. On the other, we have the issue of James’ playing time under Zinedine Zidane - or rather, the lack thereof, as the Colombian has mostly been making appearances as a substitute, if at all, over the past season.
Naturally, a move to England is a rumored escape route, complicated somewhat by the fact that the player’s current contract runs through 2020 and the tendency for Real Madrid’s business dealings to tend towards the absurd in terms of numbers. £65 million is still a healthy sum even in the era of inflated Premier League transfer budgets, and it’s difficult to see Fenway Sports Group sanctioning an expenditure of that magnitude when their most significant acquisitions in recent history have been in the £30-35 million range.
If we were to momentarily suspend disbelief and imagine there’s anything to this rumor, one would have to imagine that an acquisition of this extent would be a reactive measure responding to the outbound transfer of a significant current player. Specifically, a transfer that would generate enough cash to offset most, if not all, of a Real Madrid-sized price tag. The best candidate for that category would be the perpetually rumored Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazilian has had an up-and-down season for the Reds, but has always said the right things about his loyalty to the club and more importantly, has demonstrated that, when he’s playing to his level of ability, he is one of the most important pieces in Jürgen Klopp’s puzzle. Much can change once silly season begins, but for now, James Milner can likely rest assured that he will be the only Hamez in the squad for the foreseeable future.