James Rodriguez recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons, and according to the latest rumours coming from Spain, Real Madrid are now open to the idea of selling the Colombian midfielder to Manchester United during the summer transfer window.
The 24-year-old was recently involved in a police chase that reached speeds of no less than 124 mph, adding yet another black mark to what has been a disappointing campaign for the Colombia international. Fox Soccer shared this cover from Madrid-based daily AS:
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
James Rodriguez leads police on 124mph chase, claims he didn't see them. (Pic: @English_AS) https://t.co/ZOHyhlJyKk https://t.co/Xs73J7E0mt2016-1-2 18:56:43
Unsurprisingly, the incident has already fueled transfer speculation, and Spanish website Don Balon (h/t Metro's George Bellshaw) claims Los Blancos are “concerned about the image of the club” and open to the idea of selling Rodriguez. United are reportedly a potential destination.
Rodriguez was the top breakout star of the 2014 World Cup and moved to the Spanish capital soon after from AS Monaco. He enjoyed a very strong first season with Real, but injury and loss of form have plagued the playmaker in the 2015-16 campaign.
Per WhoScored.com, he has scored three goals and added four assists in La Liga this season, but all of those have come across three matches―blowouts of Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano and a loss against Sevilla.
He was in the news just days before the speeding incident, when he refused to look manager Rafa Benitez in the eye after a substitution against Real Sociedad before exploding on the bench:
There's quite a bit of negativity surrounding the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu entering 2016, as Real have looked far from their best and Benitez's defensive strategies are not popular with the fans. Few players have reacted as strongly as Rodriguez did against Real Sociedad, however.
Clearly, things aren't going well in the Spanish capital, but the idea Rodriguez would be shipped off in an attempt to fix the situation is a bit far out, to say the least. The Colombian is one of the top young talents in the world, a sublime playmaker with tremendous scoring potential.
He guided Colombia during the 2014 World Cup as an inexperienced youngster and looked absolutely fantastic at times last season. His potential is off the charts, and one inconsistent season plagued by injury won't diminish his value to Madrid.
Have a look at some of his biggest hits:
United have the funds to buy just about any player in the world, and if Rodriguez continues to make the news for the wrong reasons, a transfer could become a possibility somewhere down the line. But as of right now, there is no reason to believe Real would be interested in a sale.
United to Trigger Neymar Release Clause?
There are more ambitious transfer rumours from abroad, as Le10sport.com (h/t Daily Express' James Cambridge) claims United will try to land Barcelona star Neymar once again and are willing to trigger his £140 million release clause to do so.
The Brazil international was a transfer target last summer and confirmed he held talks with the club in an interview with ESPN (h/t Daily Mirror's Liam Prenderville), saying: "We had conversations, but there was nothing concrete. I heard that there were offers but none were made to me."
The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the top forwards in the world and is among the finalists to win this year's Ballon d'Or. Here's a look at how he fared in 2015:
As one of the biggest clubs in the world, United should target attacking talent like Neymar, even if the Brazilian is highly unlikely to leave Barcelona anytime soon. He's part of one of the best frontlines in football history, teaming up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and as the youngest member of that group, Barcelona see him as the future leader of the squad.
A move isn't impossible―the Catalans are facing some major financial difficulties, per Sport's Lluis Miguelsanz, and once the buyout clause is activated, the Blaugrana no longer have a say about Neymar's future.
But it's hard to imagine the forward making the decision to leave Catalonia at this time. Perhaps he could be persuaded to make a name for himself away from Messi and Suarez, and he would be worth the enormous £140 million fee, but right now, a prolonged stay in Spain seems far more likely.