There’s a simple reason James Rodriguez was on the bench against Malaga in the Champions League last night and that was because he’s been injured since the start of January and he's just coming back.
However, the manner of his re-inclusion may have surprised many who would have expected him to start as soon as he’s available for selection. After all, he was chosen to start in all six group games.
Considering the significance of the match against Malaga in relation to Porto’s season, it’s a little surprising he wasn’t starting in the attack to be subbed off later, as opposed to the other way around.
Porto won the match 1-0 which suggests they are in good form, and they are. However, they are winning and competing on all fronts without him in the starting eleven.
Which is the main reason why it may be easier for United to sign him, with Porto used to being without him and his stunning form of earlier in the campaign and last season out of the window, it's given them a chance to see what life would be like if they sold him on.
Porto are locked in a battle with Benfica at the top of the Portuguese league which could go either way. So it’s naïve to suggest that Porto don’t need James Rodriguez because they very much do, but they have at least now seen that being without him is not exactly disastrous - and a big lump of cash would be welcomely received.
There is a pressure at Porto, a pressure for Rodriguez to produce his very best form as soon as he’s thrown back into the team. Pressure can make Lionel Messi crack and miss crucial chances - his penalty at Stamford Bridge last year- so it can have the same impact on Rodriguez.
Then there is the speculation and the rumour mill. Now that Rodriguez has emerged from the treatment room, he is back in the spotlight.
Expect to see plenty more stories on Rodriguez over the remainder of the season as the debate over his availability and his next move rolls on, with Juventus already interested.
What effect will this have on Porto? Well it won’t exactly be positive if they aren’t winning, get knocked out of the Champions League and lose ground to Benfica in the title race.
Manchester United, if they really want him, can get themselves into a position where they could snap him up quickly and easily if he is available and if Porto do decide to cash in, especially with the ace of Nani in their pocket to offer in part-exchange.
If he doesn’t hit his best form over the rest of the season he will finish the campaign on a downer, which will make it easier for United to buy him as opposed to him finishing the season with 20 goals in the bank, as his price will depreciate from astronomical estimates with it.
United fans, do you like the look of Rodriguez?
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