Arsenal are being linked with a move for wantaway Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez. They should run away, run away as fast as they possibly can.
It is not the first time that Arsenal have been linked with a former superstar who is struggling at European giants X. And it certainly will not be the last. But this week, the club have again been rumoured as potential suitors of Real Madrid attacking midfielder, James Rodriguez.
Take these reports with a hefty grain of salt. Rodriguez is shipped around desperate clubs every few months for media outlets to get clicks, and this is likely no different. But per Marca and other reports in Spain, the Gunners are set to rival Everton and Wolves in bids for Rodriguez. Whether true or not, the club should not be entertaining such a move.
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First and foremost, Rodriguez has not played at a high level for some time. He provided seven goals and 11 assists in his first Bundesliga campaign, but in the same year scored just once with two assists in 12 Champions League games. The year prior, back at Real Madrid, he played in 28 games across La Liga and the Champions League. He scored eight goals and added eight assists.
These are not terrible numbers, but they were also three and four seasons ago. His best years came between 2013 and 2015. He totalled a combined 26 goals and assists in just 29 La Liga matches during his first campaign at Real Madrid. Rodriguez has dealt with a myriad of injuries and has struggled to reach the prior level upon his return. This season, he has one goal and two assists in 16 games in all competitions.
Then there is his age and cost. Rodriguez will not come cheap. Even with his contract expiring in 2021 and Madrid likely forced to sell, they will still demand a sizable fee and his wages will be among the highest in Premier League. Arsenal have tied themselves down with 28-year-olds on massive contracts before. That is not a path they should replicate.
Rodriguez is also not known to be the most committed professional. A brilliant talent he may be, but his work ethic, attitude and commitment levels are questionable. His rift with former manager Niko Kovac at Bayern Munich was well-reported, with him allegedly shouting ‘we are not in Frankfurt’ after one match in which he was left on the bench.
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Rodriguez also reportedly turned up late to training on several occasions, produced lacklustre displays on the pitch, refused a handshake with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, and saw his playing time reduce as a result of both his injury problems and his attitude and antics off the pitch.
Arsenal do need to find a long-term replacement for Mesut Ozil, a player better suited to the more physical and athletic demands of modern football. And in principle, James could be that player. He is quicker, sharper than Ozil, but provides the same creative properties as the German, if and when he is at his best.
But a combination of injuries, wages, age and attitude mean he would be a truly dreadful acquisition. Whether they are indeed considering an approach or not, Arsenal should run away as fast as they possibly can.