Arsenal must battle hard for James Rodriguez's signature
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James Rodriguez's future remains up in the air. With six months left on his two-year loan deal at Bayern Munich, no one can accurately predict where he’ll be playing his football next season. There are three options: Bayern, Real Madrid, elsewhere. Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac stated the Colombian is now playing for his future.
There wouldn’t be so much fuss about Rodriguez’s future if Bayern made him a mainstay in the first team. Instead, he’s missed nine of Bayern’s 18 League games. The nine times he’s featured for them in the Bundesliga he’s exuded class and quality, contributing three goals while delivering an average of two key passes per game [Whoscored.com]. Plagued with limited playing time in Bavaria, Rodriguez is reliving the same nightmare that forced him out of Real Madrid in 2017.
Knowing Bayern, they have no qualms about keeping him for squad-depth. It’s up to the player to enforce his will to play football. That’s where other teams can make themselves tempting for the 27-year-old. Unai Emery has a job to do in that respect.
Arsenal wasn't too smart in handling Aaron Ramsey’s contract situation. The Welshman signed a pre-contract agreement to join Juventus in the summer. Ramsey’s eventual departure creates a massive void in Arsenal’s midfield. It’s good thinking to shop for an alternative early. January isn’t too early.
Although the Bayern midfielder featured more on the international than club stage, Rodriguez for Ramsey is something of a like-for-like replacement. Emery seeks to distil a perfect blend of experience. With James, he gets a player who doesn’t turn 30 for three years.
Ramsey offered Arsenal excellent technique and a physical presence. With half-a-century in Premier League strikes, the Turin-bound midfielder has an eye for goal. He'll be sorely missed if the Gunners can't convince Rodriguez to sign for them. There’s no ruling out the prospect of Arsenal emerging genuine title-contenders in 2019/20 if Emery puts out a midfield that features Mesut Ozil and Rodriguez.
What stands in Arsenal’s way?
In short, Real Madrid, Bayern and the player himself. These are the three major factors that could cast a wet blanket over a potential Arsenal deal for Rodriguez.
Since Zinedine Zidane's departure, Los Blancos haven’t exhibited their typical dominance, especially in midfield. Given they have an exceptional talent In Rodriguez, nothing stops them from appeasing the star by giving him another shot at life as a Galactico.
However, Bayern Munich holds the ace with the player. I wouldn’t be writing this if he was being featured regularly in Kovac’s team. The next six months will determine what happens. If he continues to sit on the bench, frustration will convince him to seek a way out. If Bayern is serious about keeping him, they must appease him with more game time.
Rodriguez may not be sold on Premier League football. If so, he'll turn a deaf ear to whatever Arsenal says. More likely, he wants a club that plays Champions League football. Can Arsenal offer him that? For such a big player, those can be deal-breakers.
It’s time for Arsenal to play some football politics and get their man. They can jump in front of the situation and sign Rodriguez this month while he remains unsettled. All it’ll take is £3 million to buy out his contract. In effect, they'll be paying the outstanding amount on the loan payment Bayern owes Real Madrid. That gains his services 'til season's end and an inside track to signing him long term. If he shines and helps them get a Champions League ticket, they might be able to activate the buy-out clause to purchase him from the Merengues.
Whether they get him now or in the summer, Arsenal should be going all out to convince and sign players like James Rodriguez. That’s if they’re interested in winning the Premier League anytime soon.