James Rodriguez | Scout Report
NAME: James Rodriguez
AGE: 21 (12th July, 1991)
BORN: Cucuta, Colombia
Nine seasons ago, Sir Alex Ferguson sent out a team of scouts to run the rule over a young player causing a stir in European circles, whilst playing for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal’s Primeira Liga.
That player turned out to be Cristiano Ronaldo, who was transferred to Old Trafford in what was to become one of the steals of the century. Four years later Sir Alex sent out the same scouting network to look at another young Portuguese winger from the same club. Consequently, Luis Nani was signed for a reported €25 million.
Now, as we approach the January transfer market, United are supposedly circling their third import of the Ronaldo mould, in the form of Porto’s 21-year-old James Rodriguez.
It has been reported that the Red Devils scouted Porto winger James Rodriguez on Sunday – the seventh time they have watched him this season. United scouts watched from the stands as the 21-year-old Colombian forward scored against Academica de Coimbra.
We all know about Ronaldo, and few of us believed that Nani had the quality to step into his compatriots shoes and out of his shadow. He failed to do so in the immediate aftermath of Ronaldo’s departure, but 2010/2011 saw his form rocket as he dazzled with his trickery and abundance of assists, particularly for Wayne Rooney.
However, Nani has since lost his place to the more consistent Antonio Valencia, and an on-going contract saga means he may well be on his way out.
Cue James Rodriguez. The 21-year-old wide-man, who can play anywhere in attack, has long been heralded as one of South America’s finest young prospects.
The left-footed attacker has predictably been compared to Ronaldo by the Portuguese media, but off the pitch reports from within suggest that his mannerisms are very much more in keeping with Lionel Messi, a characteristic that will be music to the ears of the Old Trafford backroom staff, who have had to deal with the ‘playboy samba boys’ of Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani in recent years.
He has been described as tirelessly energetic and won’t shy away from the dirty-work of tracking back for defensive duties. This season he has managed seven goals from 14 appearances and has maintained an impressive pass completion of 87.7%.
Being part of what is being considered to be a new era for Columbia is another string that Rodriguez has to his bow. The Columbians are fast becoming the dark horses of South American football, much in the way that Belgium have emerged with what is being dubbed a golden generation of youngsters in Europe.
Playing in the same side of the much coveted Ramadel Falcao, Inter’s Fredy Guarin, Cristian Zapata and Luis Muriel will give him the ideal platform to prove himself on the international stage.
Much is to be seen in the coming weeks but as the new year approaches there is no doubt that speculation regarding a move to Old Trafford will intensify, as United seek to beat their European rivals and unearth the latest gem from Portugal.