Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti has said his side are still in the race to sign Real Madrid misfit James Rodriguez, to whom he says he is "very attached" amid talks between the two clubs.
Atletico Madrid have reportedly entered the chase for Rodriguez in an effort to raid rivals Real, but Ancelotti recently appeared on TV Luna (h/t Football Italia) and remained hopeful of landing the Colombian:
“I’m not aware of a deal with Atletico.
“We’re still talking for James, a player that I really like. I’m very attached to James, I rate him very highly and he can certainly improve our team.
“He doesn't need to re-announce himself, he’s a great player. But he’s not the only player we’re openly negotiating for. We’re assessing many players."
Ancelotti, 60, took Napoli to a runner-up finish in his first season with the club last term, and it is evident he sees Rodriguez as a player who could aid his efforts to break Juventus' grip on the Scudetto.
The Italian has previously worked alongside the midfielder at Real and Bayern, where James demonstrated an efficient output in front of goal under Ancelotti, per OptaPaolo:
Real look set to sell Rodriguez after he failed to complete a permanent move to Bayern following the end of his two-season loan at the Allianz Arena.
Jose Felix Diaz of Marca recently wrote Los Blancos want €40 million (£35.9 million) for a player who cost them around twice that fee five years ago, adding they wouldn't prevent him from joining rivals Atletico.
Ancelotti hasn't been the only figure at the Stadio San Paolo singing Rodriguez's praises of late, and forward Dries Mertens recently joined the campaign to tempt the player to, per Goal:
Atleti's interest is a threat considering Los Rojiblancos have already spent heavily this summer. The team has sold key men like Antoine Griezmann (to Barcelona), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) and Rodri (Manchester City), although the transfer fees received have allowed them to reinvest substantially as well.
Rodriguez has spent the last few seasons of his career as something of an outcast, but Eleven Sports recently shared footage of him enjoying better times at the Santiago Bernabeu:
Diego Simeone has already signed Portuguese prodigy Joao Felix, 19, as a replacement for Griezmann, and Marca (h/t Football Espana) reported he sees Rodriguez as the last piece needed for his "super attack."
Napoli and Ancelotti may struggle to turn Rodriguez's head if he has the chance to begin anew in Madrid with Atletico, but the Italian tactician refuses to give up on a potential deal just yet.