FFT's Spanish expert, Tim Stannard, discovers why the young Colombian's move to the Bernabeu hasn't been greeted with joy everywhere...
Every since a toga-clad, wine goblet-sporting Florentino Pérez first clapped eyes on James Rodríguez, which was probably about two weeks ago unless the Colombian popped up in a presidential sticker album, the Real Madrid big cheese has had puppy dog eyes for his latest prize.
For days now, the forward’s signing has only been a matter of... days. And then it became a matter of hours. Indeed, both AS and Marca spent Sunday and Monday announcing on their respective websites that all that was left for James to be a Madrid player was a signature. And a contract. And annoying stuff like that.
What really got the Spanish media going, though, was when the World Cup Golden Boot winner turned up at Madrid's airport on Sunday. It was a bit of a false alarm: James was in transit to France from Medellin.
Nevertheless, everything was back on again as he popped up in Madrid the next day to reportedly pen the deal that would send him to the house of his dreams at the Santiago Bernabéu. At the time of writing, somewhere near 2am in sticky Spain (when most have their dinner), there was still nothing announced, leaving Marca & Co. drastically rewriting Tuesday’s editions with an awful lot of future perfect, conditional tenses.
It was finally confirmed on Tuesday at around 2pm Spanish time, to the tune of a six-year (six!) contract and "undisclosed" transfer fee. Boo.
So what does the arrival of only Mordor's third Colombian mean to Real Madrid, and the world in general? Clearly, for the Champions League winners it is no bad thing. James could fill a nice No.10 hole behind Karim Benzema, and provide a little bit of squad cover for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. More importantly for Madrid, though, is that a heck of a lot of shirts are going to be shifted – certainly more than those with Isco’s name on it.
It's the former Málaga man who is expected to be prime loser here, which is a bit of a shame as it had looked like Madrid were inching towards a give-Spanish-youth-a-chance philosophy built around him, Alvaro Morata and Jesé up front. However, Morata has already gone to Juventus to look for first-team football, and it only seems a matter of time before Isco gets the hump too.
The other question is whether the transfer is a good one for James himself. The Colombian certainly seems to think so, with the attacker having made it quite clear that playing clad in the white of Madrid has always been his aim, which wipes out the traditional “have you always dreamed of playing for Real Madrid?” question posed by journalists whenever anyone comes to the club.
However, LLL has probed a few Colombians with whom it is acquainted, and the response to the big transfer was more lukewarm. Indeed, one comment was that James was “too good for Real Madrid”. But rather than meaning the player is superior to Ronaldo & Co., the feeling is that James deserves to be the leader in a side like Manchester United, rather than being a cog in a bigger wheel.
That may be the case, but anything must be better than playing in the sterile ambiance of Monaco’s home, where the only realistic ambition is to come second behind PSG. James will certainly have a blast in his first three months at the Santiago Bernabéu. Let’s see if the good times last after that.