At 23 years of age, James Rodriguez arrived at Real Madrid as an €80M signing and touted as being the game’s next great superstar. His return, 26 goals and 35 assists in 89 appearances over two full seasons plus the start of 2016-17, would seem to suggest the now 25-year-old has been a success at the Bernabeu.
Madrid, though, are always looking for something newer, shinier, more expensive—or just something different. Cristiano Ronaldo aside, there isn’t a Madrid player the fanbase and large portion of the Spanish press aren’t utterly convinced could be improved upon, regardless of return and results.
Queue reports from Dario Gol that Zinedine Zidane has gone to Florentino Perez and told him he has picked out the man to replace James Rodriguez: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The paper claim Liverpool want €75M for him, but elsewhere the suggestion has been it would take £75M to get Liverpool thinking.
Even then, Liverpool are in no need to sell. Jürgen Klopp didn’t touch the £60M transfer budget he was handed last summer, managing to turn a net profit while bringing in the players he wanted and building a side that is now leading the league more than a quarter of the way into the season.
There is, of course, always the chance the Spanish giants could lure Coutinho away, even if Liverpool continue their title challenge and make it back into the Champions League. There three clubs in Europe that can poach from anyone, and along with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Madrid are one of them.
Yet even if it were to turn out that Zidane truly had set his sights on Coutinho, Liverpool are in a strong position to demand an exorbitant fee in return. It’s also not a transfer that would have any chance of happening while the season is still in progress. In short, for now, it’s idle Spanish rumour mongering.
And whatever does happen, at the end of the day, it’s the sort of thing fans will have to get used to reading about should Liverpool continue continue to challenge for the Premier League title. It’s the kind of rumour that means the club, players, and manager are doing something right.