James Rodriguez officially signed by Real Madrid this week, with the fee of €80 million leaving many fans shaking their heads for a multitude of reasons.
The poor economic conditions in Spain, and the over abundance of incredible midfielders in Madrid's possession are two of the most popular causes for annoyance. Of course heads will have to roll after this purchase, and Madrid are already looking to unload Isco, Sami Khedira and Angel di Maria.
Obviously it's too late to go back on the Rodriguez deal now, but are Los Blancos really coming out the winners here?
James deal the wrong move?
Watching Madrid's Champions League Final game against city rivals Atletico, two players stood out to me. Sergio Ramos and Di Maria. Ramos was the defensive wall, and gave Real the goal they needed in the dying minutes of added time. Di Maria probably deserved much more praise than he received.
Without the industrious work rate that the Argentinian put into that game, Madrid probably would not have walked away with the trophy. He constantly ran down the flanks breaking down Juanfran and tiring out Atletico's midfield. He didn't have a goal to show for at the end, but the team win orchestrated by him was more important.
The evolution of Di Maria
With the signing of Gareth Bale, Di Maria's position was very much endangered at this stage last summer. Having played right wing the past few seasons, the marquee signing of Bale forced him to adapt in ways not many expected.
Di Maria became a solid midfield player, using his pace and excellent dribbling skills as well as much improved passing abilities. He led all Madrid players in key passes, which are defined as passes in the final third portion of the field. The next statistic trumps the former; he had the most assists in all of Europe, with 17 in La Liga and another five in the Champions League. He set up 22 direct goals.
To say he is a good player would not be enough. His seven goals added to that make him a complete midfielder, with more focus on play making.
James Rodriguez had a good season in AS Monaco of Ligue 1, scoring nine goals and setting up 12, but it's hard to compare those numbers to the ones of Di Maria. James had the luxury in playing in a league of lower difficulty, and he also lacks experience in the Champions League.
Another reason why I believe Di Maria is a greater asset to Madrid is the chemistry he has built up with players in the Spanish capital, having been there for four seasons now.
Real's counter attacks through Di Maria have been superb, and time will tell if James can fit in the big shoes left by the Argentine. James hasn't had a chance to truly prove himself yet in the big leagues. Di Maria has shown that he is the better player, and if Madrid are to sell him, they should charge as much as possible.
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