“I really wait for the day when finally the transfer window is closed, because I can’t believe how obsessed you all are with this. You don’t believe for a second in improvement on the training pitch.” – Jürgen Klopp.
So, I suppose it is natural that Jürgen Klopp about-turns on his stance of the transfer market and looks to pay a club record fee, for a player, who at first glance seems like one they do not need? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in the storied history of the club that something as diabolically-daft has happened, and if reports are to be believed, may not be the last time. Andy Carroll, the ringmaster to Liverpool’s burgeoning troupe of circus stowaways who found their way to Anfield for no rhyme and very little reason – that list includes the nefarious El Hadji Diouf; football’s Peter Pan, Mario Balotelli; £1 million-per-game man, Alberto Aquilani; and Paul ‘let’s his mum fight the good fight‘ Konchesky.
So, 60 million GBP worth of Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez being fancied by Liverpool enough to put in an enquiry, may not seem irregular at all. In fact, it’s so ridiculous, the claim being bandied around, by the likes of Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo, that British publications have actually been lulled into believing that, it may be indeed be substantiated. By, of course, the sheer virtue that the club being linked with has a predisposition for the utterly confounding.
James (or Ha-mes) Rodriguez is free to leave Real Madrid and has consolidated two full-page spread of the Mundo Deportivo today, in a way he would only hope he could have established himself on the pitch for the most successful club in Europe.
There is something quite curious in the way that James Rodriguez has been plied. Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and most recently, Zinedine Zidane, none of his three managers have deemed him tactically responsible enough to command his natural berth of an attacking midfield role.
The Madridistas are an awfully hard-to-please bunch of supporters, and they have had reason to be not-too-pleased with the Colombian’s return of 8 goals and 10 assists for the fat wad of 80 million Euros thrown at AS Monaco for his services.
Coming a cropper in the high-tempo attacking play of Real, he looked ponderous on occasions looking to play it simple than the taking chances to make mistakes – a cardinal sin for a play-maker. As a result, he was shipped to play on either of the flanks as a wing-forward, and employed in his favoured central position a sum-total of just 3 times, in 2015-16.
Ha-mes modelled his style on Colombian legend and undisputed afro champion of football, Carlos Valderrama; whose languid play-making, while it instilled deep-rooted nostalgia, would be an anachronism in today’s era of hit-and-run football. Ha-mes, unfortunately, like Valderrama, is a throwback. Ideally, his game should find a place in the steadier scenes of the Italian Serie A, and any impending move to the Premier League may be terribly ill-advised. His failings may be even starker when you consider the high-intensity, hounds-from-hell, knee-buckling tempo Jürgen Klopp orchestrates.
If indeed he chooses to, despite forewarnings from past examples, his fate may draw a similar trajectory to 24 million-pound-man, Juan Sebastian Veron – the South American deemed a flatfooted fraud in England, went on to become a moustache-twirling, puppet-master in Italy.
To some extent, the need of a play-maker is understandable – when one considers that Liverpool’s only orthodox creative midfielder is Phil Coutinho. But off late, to the keen eye, Lil’ Phil, as he’s lovingly known among the Liverpool faithful, has been a bit of a faux number 10 – looking to be more of a scoring influence, than looking to set his teammates up. His wayward and frequent shooting against Burnley, and his displays in games in the latter part of last season seems to highlight the point.
That brings to the fore another question – does Jürgen deem an orthodox playmaker to be redundant in his style? He did have a midfield controller, in Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan, but never quite an advanced attacking midfielder who only dealt in laying off passes.
This point further lays waste to this fresh speculation surrounding Ha-mes. And while you can never be too sure, with Liverpool, you can be sure of this.