Manchester United are reportedly pursuing either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale this summer, but they may well be looking at the wrong Real Madrid star.
According to the Express, Louis Van Gaal wants one of Ronaldo or Bale to replace the outgoing Angel Di Maria. The Argentine is on the verge of a move to Paris Saint-Germain, as BBC Sport reports, and would leave a world-class void in the United squad despite his modest first season.
Van Gaal needs to be smart with his next acquisition, as it could either build on the momentum of his so far impressive summer signings, or risk creating an imbalance and end up being the wrong decision.
There is little doubt that United fans would relish seeing Ronaldo back at Old Trafford. The Portuguese international won three Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy during his first stint at the club, and established himself as the one of the best players in the world.
Nevertheless, comebacks do not always work out as intended. The Madrid ace is now 30 years of age, and although there is no sign of an immediate decline in his ability, you wonder how long he can continue to perform at such an incredibly high level.
If Van Gaal is disregarding the long term to an extent, having vowed to retire when his United contract expires in 2017, as ESPN reports, then the move makes sense. However, Ronaldo will not be cheap and United must consider whether his immediate impact would be worth the outlay.
Former Tottenham Hotspur star Bale has also been linked with a return to England by the Express, but, the Welshman is considered to be an integral part of Rafa Benitez’s plans at the Bernabeu, according to the Daily Mail.
In turn, that would suggest that United would either need to spend a significant amount of money to convince Real to sell, or stop wasting their time monitoring the 26-year-old’s situation.
As a result, Van Gaal should be looking closer at James Rodriguez. The Colombian is still just 24, is highly talented, versatile, and provided a timely reminder on Monday of what he can produce.
He scored this free-kick in Madrid’s 3-0 pre-season victory over Inter Milan this afternoon.
Van Gaal already has Memphis Depay, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and Antonio Valencia who can all operate in wide positions. Admittedly, beyond Mata, he may not be guaranteed quality, but Rodriguez could play his role in any position of the attacking trident behind Wayne Rooney.
It is unclear as to whether or not Benitez and Madrid would even entertain the idea of selling Rodriguez only one year after signing him, but it is certainly worth asking the question.
A return for Ronaldo could well be doomed to fail as he is unlikely to replicate what he achieved the first time round. Meanwhile, Bale does not appear to be on the market this summer. Van Gaal needs to reassess his options and consider which player best complements what he already has at his disposal.
Rodriguez is arguably filling the space in the team that Di Maria left behind in Madrid. He may be best placed to do the same in Manchester, if the Premier League giants are willing to think outside of the box.
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