Chinese Super League outfit Hebei Fortune have denied rumours that they made a £95 million bid for Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.
“They linked us with Messi before, now we are ‘after’ James Rodriguez," the club said in a statement, per Goal. "Who's our next target? Cristiano Ronaldo?
“We don’t know who are spreading those rumours, but they step too far out of line. The club are not built to deny rumours. It’s impossible for us to respond to totally fake news. Please don’t take advantage of us to make headlines.”
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Although Hebei may not be interested in James, that’s not to say that other teams aren’t.
The Colombian has failed to truly make his mark at the Santiago Bernabeu following his £63 million move in 2014. He’s started just four La Liga games this season and has been forced to comment on his future on numerous occasions.
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“We all go through difficult times and now it's a new year and I have new desires in life,” the 25-year-old recently told beIN Sports, per Goal. “I am staying, I am staying."
James needed convincing to stay
Considering his talent - James has two goals and two assists in his past four appearances - and Madrid’s transfer ban, it’s hardly a surprise Zinedine Zidane hasn’t sold him.
However, according to Colombian media, the former Monaco star needed convincing to stay when Chelsea came calling earlier this month.
Confidencial Colombia claim the Premier League table-toppers made a €90 million (£78m) bid for James, with Madrid chiefs happy to accept the offer.
So Chelsea were seemingly about to get their man - until Cristiano Ronaldo stepped in.
The report adds that Ronaldo held a discussion with James and convinced him to stay in Spain.
James is said to have thought long and hard about his future after failing to play a single minute in last month’s Club World Cup final. Eventually he said no after speaking with Ronaldo, one of his closest friends.
Antonio Conte will have a big reason to be upset with the Portugal international.
Video: CR7 greets James in the tunnel after Sevilla brace
Would James at Chelsea worked?
Chelsea were prepared to offer James an increase on his current wages - believed to be €12 million-per-year - but it’s not hard to imagine him following a similar path to Oscar at Stamford Bridge.
Conte’s 3-4-3 system doesn’t suit a typical No.10 like James. The Italian plays a flat four in midfield, with Diego Costa flanked by two wingers.
Unless Conte was willing to change his formation, which wouldn’t make sense considering it’s helped Chelsea reached the summit of the Premier League, he would have to shoehorn James into the line-up.