Scouting Report for Manchester United Transfer Target James Rodriguez

Max TowleAnalyst IOctober 19, 2012

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JULY 28:  James Rodriguez of FC Porto poses prior to a Pre-Season friendly match between Valencia CF and FC Porto at Estadio Mestalla on July 28, 2012 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

I recently had my mind well and truly blown by a quite astonishing goal scored by Porto's James Rodriguez, so when rumours of Manchester United's reported interest in the Colombian resurfaced this past week, I felt morally obliged to rule the roost over the young attacking midfielder in honour of the strike.

Quite apart from the fact that the swerving volley came late in a crucial Champions League group game, it was an 83rd-minute clincher to beat new European super heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain.

The 21-year-old has been on a bit of a tear in recent games, scoring five goals in his last nine games for Porto and Colombia.

Despite playing in a wide position for both the Portuguese club and his national team, Rodriguez is being increasingly relied on by both sides for his playmaking abilities, and often drifts into a more central role or to the opposite flank during games.

Indeed, his cracker against PSG was scored coming in off the right wing, struck by his favoured left foot.

In his first two Champions League games of the season, he made 92 passes, with a 91% success rate, highlighting his importance to the team in terms of combining with the likes of Joao Moutinho and Steven Defour in the midfield (via WhoScored?).

Rodriguez is perhaps best recognized in the game though for his dribbling and skill—and deservedly so.

It is in this aspect of his game that has drawn the most comparison with one Cristiano Ronaldo. The Colombian runs at defenders with his head up and an inner confidence that is easy to see.

The ball almost seems glued to his foot at times, teasingly offered before advancing opponents before being whisked away in an instant in a sudden burst of acceleration.

His powerful shot also reminds one of a young Ronaldo, and it's no coincidence he's scored 18 goals in a little over a year for Porto—many can be counted as long-range rockets. Oh, and he can take a spectacular free-kick or two as well.

He is considered unpredictable and a bit of an enigma by some, but regular first-team football in Europe is producing a more well-rounded, consistent player.

It may seem odd to suggest this of a footballing prodigy these days, but his temperament on and off the pitch is excellent too.

Tirelessly energetic, Rodriguez works hard in all phases of the game when called upon, utilizing his pace and stamina to chase and harry on the back foot.

Currently on a long-term contract, and with Porto in no rush to sell, a commanding price tag undoubtedly sits upon his head.

My best guess is that Porto wouldn't let Rodriguez go for less than £25 million, and would more likely demand upwards of £30 million.

The Mirror's report linking United with the Colombian quotes the player as saying "We all know that Manchester United are a great club."

"England is a great league but I’m thinking of Porto for now. We’re having a good time and personally I’m feeling fine and am focused on there."

The link is justified in the reasoning that Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson is looking to flog Portuguese winger Nani to an Italian club, either AC Milan or Juventus, as soon as the winter transfer window opens in January.

Whilst I would be more than happy to swap player for player, Nani is not going to be sold for more than £15 million, less than half of Rodriguez's probable cost.

But if the funds are available, I'm sure United fans would welcome the transfer.

Whether or not the team then needs to bring in another defensive midfielder/box-to-box player, is a question for another article.

What do you think of James Rodriguez? Would he make a fine replacement for Nani? How great is is upside?

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