Real Madrid are reportedly open to selling Manchester United target James Rodriguez if they receive a "sickening" offer for the winger. But Gareth Bale won't be moving to Old Trafford following claims he's set to become Real Madrid's "No. 1" player at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Daily Star's Alex Harris cited a Daily Express report from January linking United with a move for Rodriguez, and Spanish website Fichajes has added that Casemiro's recent displays have left Real more open to selling their winger.
Rodriguez has struggled to fit in Real's XI when the club has had all its options available, with Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo preferred as the starting options either side of striker Karim Benzema.
Bale's return to fitness has pushed Rodriguez into a more central role, and he came on as a late substitute for holding midfielder Casemiro in Sunday's 4-0 win over Sevilla. BBC Sport's Andy West highlighted the critical role the Brazilian played in adding a more stable dimension:
Much better from Real Madrid. Great going forward & Casemiro provided balance. Now, if they can start playing like that *away* from home...— Andy West (@andywest01) March 20, 2016
There's a deep resource of attacking talent at the Bernabeu, but head coach Zinedine Zidane's side isn't as well off in the engine room, where Casemiro fulfils a role similar to the one Sergio Busquets plays at Barcelona.
Should Real Madrid cash in on Rodriguez this summer?
Rodriguez's standing has fallen in Madrid due to slipping standards on the pitch and getting embroiled in controversy following his high-speed chase with the Spanish police, per BBC News.
Zidane remains adamant his player has been unjustly treated, however, per Harris: "I think James has been treated a bit unfairly. However, the players are well aware that when they play well, they will get lots of nice things said about them. It bothers me when people speak ill of James because he's my player. James is committed to the cause."
Boos rang around the Bernabeu whenever Rodriguez touched the ball in the recent 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over AS Roma—a match in which he scored—and ESPN's John Brewin couldn't comprehend why the fans showed such ire toward their player:
Why the boos of James Rodriguez? Mendes could be on the phone to Ed soon.— John Brewin (@JohnBrewinESPN) March 8, 2016
United's search for speed on the wings could lead them to hunt the South American, who will be a much easier target than Bale after details of his new contract offer at Real Madrid emerged on Tuesday.
According to the Telegraph's Matt Law, Los Blancos will increase Bale's £300,000-a-week wages in a bid to extend his deal under the threat of a potential transfer embargo being imposed on the club next year.
The Wales international scored in Sunday's 4-0 win over Sevilla to take his place as the top British or Irish goalscorer in La Liga history:
The new contract would reportedly signify Bale being appointed as Real's No. 1 star ahead of current poster child Ronaldo, who could still be sold by the club in order to raise funds for reinforcements, per Law.
Yahoo's Andrew Gaffney alluded to the possibility Premier League fans may be waiting a long time before former Tottenham Hotspur ace Bale is ready to make a return to the English top flight:
I see some areas of the British press are finally understanding Bale has been a success in Spain and doesn’t want to return to England.— Andrew Gaffney (@GaffneyVLC) March 21, 2016
The 26-year-old penned a six-year deal with Los Merengues upon arriving in Spain's capital back in 2013, but despite having three years remaining on his current contract, Madrid are hopeful of tying him down to new terms.
Bale is thriving under the management of former Galactico Zidane, and Manchester United's chances of tempting the winger into an England return will be reduced to dust if their target opts to stretch his Real stay.