Alvaro Morata Expects to Partner James Rodriguez Next Year Amid Man United Talk

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2017

LA CORUNA, SPAIN - APRIL 26:  James Rodriguez of Real Madrid celebrates with his teammates Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid after scoring his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match between RC Deportivo La Coruna and Real Madrid at Riazor Stadium on April 26, 2017 in La Coruna, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata has said he expects to still be team-mates with James Rodriguez next season amid speculation linking both players with a move to Manchester United

Morata told Tele 5 (h/t Marca): "He is a great player. I am sure we will be partners next year."

Per Marca, Morata has been linked with United, while according to RMC (h/t The Sun's Josh Hutchinson), United have opened talks with Real regarding James.

Morata's Spain took on Rodriguez's Colombia in a friendly, with the former scoring in the 2-2 draw.

The latter is widely expected to leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer after being restricted to a back-up role. Rodriguez plays at a similar level to his illustrious team-mates, but he is hindered by not being a natural fit in manager Zinedine Zidane's setup, and naming him in the first XI tends to leave them unbalanced.

His failure to make the squad for the UEFA Champions League final only added fuel to the fire, per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan:

Despite his limited game time, he still showed off his quality, per OptaJose and

A playmaker isn't the most pressing need for United this summer, but the 25-year-old could add goals, creativity and class to any side in which he plays, and it's not often a player of his ability is on the market.

Morata has been used as a back-up for Karim Benzema since his return to Real Madrid last summer.

The Spaniard's goal record has often been scrutinised—particularly at Juventus, with whom he notched 27 goals in 93 appearances—but he showed he can be prolific last season, per football writer Liam Canning:

Despite making a significant number of appearances for Real in 2016/17, he played under 2,000 minutes in all competitions.

Per football analyst Dave O'Brien, his resulting minutes-per-goal ratio in La Liga was exceptional:

Landing both Morata and Rodriguez would make an expensive but strong start to the Red Devils' summer business, but it's difficult to read too much into Morata's comments.

After all, the striker may be hoping Rodriguez opts to stay put at Real. It is a more likely scenario for the pair to remain team-mates than both sign for the same club.