Manchester United Transfer News: James Rodriguez in Top-2 Jose Mourinho Targets

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2016

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 09:  James Rodriguez of Real Madrid goes to take a corner kick during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Eibar at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 9, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

James Rodriguez is reportedly one of two players Jose Mourinho wants Manchester United to sign if he is to take over in the summer, the other being his Real Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane. 

According to Oscar Mendez of Spanish outlet Fichajes (h/t Luke Gardener of the Daily Star), Mourinho is widely expected to replace Louis van Gaal at the end of the season and is a "known admirer" of the duo.

Further, according to Sky Sports' Guillem Balague United may have luck landing the Colombian as "Real Madrid are more than happy to sell him...if they get the right amount of money."

Indeed, El Pais' Diego Torres Romano (h/t sports journalist Jonas Giaever) reported club president Florentino Perez is hoping to sell the 24-year-old this summer, and he isn't overly content at the Santiago Bernabeu either:

Jonas Giæver @CheGiaevara

It is Florentino Pérez who has decided he'll be moved on due to the amount of midfielders at the club

Jonas Giæver @CheGiaevara

He is said to know that Madrid want to sell him. He also knows he'll be jeered if he plays, and he feels underutilized at Madrid.

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Rodriguez gave such an impression over the international break as he appeared to aim a dig at his club side for their treatment of him, per Marca (h/t ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan):

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

James says he plays better for Colombia as he feels supported fully when he's with his country: https://t.co/eKE7UVbzSx

The midfielder has been the target of criticism this season after struggling to cement a starting berth due to a number of sub-par performances. Coupled with fitness issues, he has made just 25 appearances this season and just 20 in La Liga.

He has nevertheless found the net seven times and assisted eight times. He found the net after just four minutes during an outstanding performance on Saturday, though:

WhoScored.com shared the stats from arguably his best showing of the campaign:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

.@jamesdrodriguez: MotM vs Eibar, Rating 9.01, Goals 1, Key Passes 3, Tackles 6, Pass Accuracy 90% @realmadriden https://t.co/1hpruZooTB

When at his best, as he was in the 4-0 win over Eibar, Rodriguez is a wonderfully talented player and his ability to make decisive contributions in the final third—even during poor performances—is matched by few.

Los Blancos do have an array of midfielders, though, and Rodriguez's presence in the side often causes it to lack balance, which has been a problem in big games this season such as the first El Clasico in November as Real were dismissed 4-0 by Barcelona, so it wouldn't be too surprising if he did move on.

United are in desperate need of a player of his calibre and should be prepared to meet Real's demands if they're willing to part with him.

The Red Devils could also use Varane as they have often been forced to utilise Daley Blind at centre-back alongside Chris Smalling, and while the Dutchman can perform well there in the long term he's no substitute for an established defender.

Real Madrid's French defender Raphael Varane (C) heads the ball during the UEFA Champions League football match AS Roma vs Real Madrid on Frebruary 17, 2016 at the Olympic stadium in Rome.  Real Madrid won 0- 2.  AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / FIL

Varane has been a regular for Madrid this season save for absences due to injury—he's otherwise played 27 times and lasted 90 minutes in the majority of those games. The Frenchman is also enjoying a run of matches with his national side, per OptaJean: 

OptaJean @OptaJean

23 - Raphaël Varane has now played France’s last 23 games, longest current run. Boss.

Here are some of his best moments in a Madrid shirt this season:

A pacey and accomplished defender, Varane is well on his way to becoming one of the best centre-backs in world football.

United have lacked the presence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic since they left the club and Varane is certainly a player who could help them restore a similar air of invulnerability.

He'll likely be much more difficult to prise away from Real, though, so United may have to look elsewhere.

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