James Rodriguez was a breakout star for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, but now he has a permanent platform on which to show his talents after Real Madrid reached a transfer agreement with Monaco for the classy attacking midfielder.
Real Madrid's official website passed along word of the deal, with a brief statement that read:
Real Madrid C.F. have reached an agreement with AS Mónaco FC to buy James Rodríguez, who will join the club for the next six seasons.
The player will be presented today, Tuesday 22 July, at 20:00 CET, in the Santiago Bernabéu's presidential box.
The final fee reportedly hit the £63 million mark, according to The Daily Telegraph, representing yet another huge outlay for Madrid following their recent £24 million capture of Toni Kroos.
Interest in Rodriguez was always going to pick up after his exceptional performances in Brazil. Few players were able to match his overall impact. He led the Cafeteros' attack with terrific efficiency and produced some truly highlight-reel moments.
That said, the move still comes as a surprise because Monaco had said they were looking to build around him moving forward. The Agence France-Presse (via gulfnews.com) passed along comments from Monaco Vice President Vadim Vasilyev once the speculation began to pick up:
Everybody was surprised at the sum invested in this player. Now everyone is talking about James Rodriguez. That means we were right to bring him here.
We believe in this player a lot. He is very important to our team. He still has four years on his contract and we are going to do great things together.
There are no negotiations with any club. We are counting on him and we think he will have a great season.
Rodriguez was one of the key additions by the Rouges et Blancs last summer during a major spending spree. He enjoyed a solid debut campaign, scoring nine goals and registering 12 assists while helping the side qualify for the Champions League.
His performance with Colombia is really what generated the major interest, though. Monaco must have decided that once the offers started to pour in, they were too good to pass up.
The winger made six appearances for the national team during the club offseason. He scored in every match, including six goals in five matches during the World Cup. He also added two assists, making him one of the most productive players in the tournament.
OptaJoe noted his success:
5 - James Rodríguez has scored in each of his five #WorldCup appearances so far, bagging six goals in total. Talisman.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 4, 2014
He's now on the move for the second time in as many years. The question becomes whether the rising star can continue his rapid ascent and become one of the best players in the world. That's what his new club is betting on.
Will Rodriguez live up to the massive hype?
There's no doubting his skill level. The key is getting him enough touches to allow that talent to shine. He became the focal point of the Colombian attack due to Radamel Falcao's injury, and that's what allowed him to capture the imagination of many during the World Cup.
At Madrid, he will have to battle with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and others just to get into the starting XI.
One football writer summed up Carlo Ancelotti's options:
Rodríguez has passed his Real Madrid medical. Ancelotti has some, er, decent options, huh? pic.twitter.com/pO0X9KM1Ij— Sam (@samuelJayC) July 22, 2014
Wonderfully balanced, Rodriguez can either play an attacking midfield role behind Madrid's lethal attack or slot into that forward line himself to offer a more creative dimension.
As always, there will be a transition period, but since he went through a similar situation last summer, it should help the process. It will be interesting to see how he performs once he gets settled in. There are now more eyes on him than ever.
If Rodriguez can build off his World Cup success, he'll prove well worth the investment.