Bayern sign James Rodriguez on loan: Why?

Alex Caple
Alex Caple
Alex Caple
Contributor

After months, and months, and months of speculation, James Rodriguez finally has a new club. It’s not a £60m move to Manchester United, nor is it a £50m move to Chelsea. £55m to PSG? No, not that either. Bayern sign James Rodriguez on a two-year loan deal. Why?

Real Madrid have made no secret whatsoever that they have wanted to shift James this summer. He’s been linked with virtually every team in Europe at one stage, even if tentatively, and although Wolves fans were likely sitting fingers crossed that it would be them, it’s ended up being Bayern on a loan deal. This opens up questions about every aspect of the deal. Why Bayern? Why a loan deal? Why were Real so desperate to sell? Absolutely none of it is obvious.

For starters, the big question that governs it all is exactly how good James Rodriguez actually is. That in itself isn’t clear. Real bought him for £60m after the 2014 World Cup in a deal that seemed both exciting and a bit much. Yes, he’d had an incredible World Cup, winning the golden boot and scoring THAT goal.

That had him wanted around Europe, naturally. But if anyone had suggested a day before the tournament that Real Madrid would be making James Rodriguez the fourth most expensive player in history that summer, you’d have called them mad. He was a talent at Porto, and Monaco picked him up in 2013 for €45 million, but his season there wasn’t a sensation.

James certainly benefited from Real’s compulsive need to sign the player everyone is talking about after a World Cup (see also: Ronaldo, Cannavaro, Ozil & Khedira, Kroos; they’ll be hoping a keeper has a great time in Russia). He never felt like a Galactico, though, instead arriving with more hope than expectation.

Three years later, James didn’t live up to that hope, having an okay but unremarkable time in Madrid. He just didn’t have the impact on the team in the way that the other playmakers did, competing with Modric, Kroos, and Isco for a place in the middle, even being ousted by Asensio last year. He couldn’t take advantage of Bale’s injuries to shine on the right, either, and the change in formation last season should have helped him, but instead he didn’t even make the squad for the Champions League Final.

It all means there have been huge questions over James’ ability, especially whether he’s worth the money being talked about. Real have clearly been keen to get rid, to the point where they’ve gotten him out of the club on a loan deal. It seems that absolutely nobody was willing to give Real anything approaching their money back for James.

You can’t help but look at things and come to the conclusion that James needs a move to a club where he can play, rebuild his career into what it looked like becoming. Then why on earth has he chosen Bayern Munich?

Maybe the bright lights of another ‘super club’ blinded him, or maybe he’s just got the confidence in himself to make it at a top side. But the Colombian has struggled to compete with other world-class attacking midfielders, so a choice of Bayern seems like a huge risk. Robben, Ribery, Thiago, Tolisso, Vidal, Coman, Renato Sanches, Rudy. That’s a lot to compete with, especially when you’re only there on a loan deal. He can’t possibly get priority with Bayern given that the deal appears to have been done on a “sure, go on then” kind of motive. They presumably aren’t paying all of his wages, so why give him time to develop over someone like Tolisso?

“James is a very versatile player. He’s a goalscorer himself, he sets up a lot of goals, and on top of that he’s great from set-pieces.”

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

James enjoyed a decent first season at Real in his one and only season with Ancelotti, and that certainly seems to be the reason why this has happened; Ancelotti knows him, and James must enjoy playing for him. And from Bayern’s point of view, why not? A two-year deal to see if he’s any good, and don’t bother with him if he isn’t. Plus, it puts a stop to the “James to United/Chelsea/Whoever” stories, and they’ll be as bored of them as everyone else is.

Bayern seem the clear winners here, getting an undoubtedly talented player on what is effectively a trial. Real sort of got what they wanted, but not really, shifting the player from their squad without getting rid completely. James appears to have moved from one club where he struggles for playing time to another.