Well, that only took about 24 hours. This time yesterday, rumblings in Spain that were quickly picked up by the English tabloids had Liverpool one of a host of clubs who had been offered surplus Real Madrid star James Rodriguez. Now, though, word is that Liverpool have said thanks but no thanks.
According to Sport, Jürgen Klopp has signalled he has no interest in pursuing the 25-year-old attacking star, and honestly, it’s not much of a surprise to any Liverpool fan paying attention to the club’s transfer plans this summer. For all his talent, the 25-year-old would never have looked a wise investment.
Not when he would have cost between £65-70M and Liverpool have more pressing needs elsewhere. It’s no slight on James’ skill as an attacking midfielder to say the Reds would be much, much better off this summer putting that kind of money towards a true central midfielder, centre half, or left back.
And in fact that is what the club intend to do, even if insight into the status of transfer negotiations has dried up in the wake of the Virgil van Dijk mess. Not having heard anything new doesn’t mean things have changed, though, and the top targets appear to remain Van Dijk and midfielder Naby Keïta.
Each would likely end up costing the club a fee similar to what James would, and both would improve the club far more than signing James to compete for minutes with Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana as a swing attacking midfielder or winger would given the current squad composition.
Currently, Liverpool have two holding midfielders in Emre Can and Jordan Henderson, two wingers in Sadio Mané and Mohammed Salah, and the aforementioned two players capable of playing either as the most attacking player in a midfield trio or on the wing. They have just one CM shuttler in Gini Wijnaldum.
In defence, meanwhile, there is a clear need to improve Klopp’s options, with either a signing that pushing Dejan Lovren to the bench or at very the least a signing that will provide a better third choice than the club currently have on the books. Then, after that, there’s the left back situation.
Liverpool have three holes in the squad—three positions Klopp intends to strengthen—and the money to make big signings at two of them. There isn’t a way to fit James into that plan while still signing the kinds of players Klopp has determined he needs at the positions he has determined he needs them.
Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta may or may not arrive in the end, but short of Madrid growing desperate and offering him at a price so low Liverpool simply can’t say no, James Rodriguez was not and will not be a target for the club this summer.