Colombia star James Rodriguez has been the absolute stand-out player at the 2014 FIFA World Cup so far, with the attacking midfielder netting five goals in four appearances and producing a string of top-class displays.
With the South American nation due to face host nation Brazil in the quarter-finals, Rodriguez will be under more scrutiny to perform than ever before on Friday, though his performances so far suggest he'll be more than capable of thriving in the spotlight.
Unsurprisingly, such good form has led to speculation over his future at club level, with Real Madrid interested in signing him as a replacement for Angel Di Maria, as per Liam Prenderville of Mirror Football.
Moves to Spain
A move to La Liga would seem to hold plenty of positive points for Rodriguez, not least of which is his natural spoken language.
As per Gary Payne at The Guardian, Rodriguez himself admits that a move to Spain would be a natural progression for his career: "I’ve said in the past that I’d like to play in Spain one day, because it is a league that is good technically, and where you get a lot of touches on the ball, which is my style."
The big duo of Real Madrid and Barcelona will naturally be linked with him, with Real willing to shell out £40 million for him this summer according to the Daily Mail—if they can sell Argentine midfielder Di Maria first.
Rodriguez is correct in his assertions that playing in La Liga will see him feature heavily in possession and able to showcase his ability on the ball, though he is likely to encounter far more defensive-minded teams, too, the go-to approach for many sides when faced with Real or Barca.
With them sitting deep, compact and with numbers behind the ball, he will be forced to develop a more patient side to his game at times, though his quality in the penalty area, in front of goal, is a big bonus which both teams would love.
In the same Guardian article, Rodriguez intimates that the Premier League is not for him—at least at the present moment—claiming it is too "physical" for his liking.
Perhaps it is true that more challenges are expected in England's top league, but Rodriguez should check the treatment handed out to Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at times before he thinks a move to Spain means an easy ride in terms of heavy-duty defenders.
La Liga might lack something of the bodily approach of England defenders, but sly kicks, constant needling and purposeful tripping, pushing or general close contact are frequently the order of the day in Spain's top flight.
In addition, the fast-paced nature of the English game is perhaps closer to the rapid transition-based approach of Colombia at the World Cup, something Rodriguez has thrived in with plenty of movement around him.
The most sensible approach for now, though, would probably be to see out another campaign in Ligue 1 with AS Monaco, his current club.
With so much attention heading his way due to his World Cup performances, Rodriguez's price will likely rise, and there would be an awful lot more expectation and pressure on him to perform immediately, every match, at his top level, if he were to head off to Real Madrid or similar this summer.
He's perhaps capable of doing so, but he doesn't really need to force that expectation upon himself straight away.
Monaco will challenge hard for league honours once more, he will be playing in the UEFA Champions League with them this season, too—where he previously played for Porto—and he is still only 22 years old.
The big move will happen for Rodriguez, that much is clear, but another year of regular game-time at a club fighting for honours, honing his own game and bringing the consistency to his performances that perhaps domestically he has lacked previously, makes most sense.
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