Anyone who has followed MLS closely has seen this type of story before. The formula of a world-renowned player being linked with a club in a notable market is, after all, as old as time.
But if — and this is a big if — there is any truth to the latest rumor, Inter Miami is in the process of trying to make the type of major splash that would solidify the team’s place among Major League Soccer’s elite.
On and off the field.
According to multiple reports that emerged on Wednesday, Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham has spoken to Real Madrid about the possibility of acquiring star Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez. No offer has been made according to the reports, but Beckham has reportedly reached out to both his former side and Rodriguez’s representatives to inquire about a potential move.
How true that is and whether Rodriguez would seriously contemplate leaving Europe at this point in his career are unknowns, but it is certainly clear the attacking midfielder could use a change of scenery. Rodriguez, who has another year left on his contract, has been surplus to requirements at Real Madrid for some time now. He spent the last two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich and had made just seven league appearances for Real Madrid before the current La Liga season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Given his age and importance to Colombia’s national team, the 28-year-old Rodriguez needs steady minutes at this point in his career. Inter Miami could certainly provide that breath of fresh air — the expansion MLS club has an open Designated Player slot that it wants to fill — but so too could a number of other teams across the globe. Arsenal, Manchester United, and Everton have all been rumored to be interested in landing the talented attacker this summer.
If — again, this is a big if — Inter Miami is actually interested and this is not just a strategic move from Real Madrid or Rodriguez’s agent to help drum up interest in the player, landing him might be as good as it can get for the third DP spot.
Yes, Inter Miami already has a roaming creative midfielder on the roster in Mexican international Rodolfo Pizarro and team officials have said in recent months they want to sign a striker to round out the squad.
Still, adding a player of Rodriguez’s abilities, experience, and proven track record would be a major coup for the new franchise. It would not only give Inter Miami arguably the most talented player in the league, but one the club could build around for many years to come as it attempts to reach the stated goal of becoming the “most important team in this hemisphere”.
What’s more, Rodriguez would be a huge marketing figure in South Florida. There is a large Colombian population in and around Miami that has not been tapped into yet by the club and its sponsors, and Rodriguez would give the team the type of recognizable superstar that was originally promised but has, to date, not been delivered.
He would sell jerseys, tickets, and other merchandise. All while drawing in even more eyeballs from around the globe on Inter Miami and furthering the positive momentum the team has in the market right now. Such is his star power.
More specifically in terms of on the field, Rodriguez would likely result in pushing Pizarro to a position on the flank. That might take away some width from the Inter Miami attack given Pizarro’s propensity for drifting inside, but would give the side a pair of technical and exciting players capable of both scoring goals themselves and unlocking defenses for teammates with quick 1-2s. The attack’s quality would surely evolve into that of a championship contender.
As for what it would mean for the striker spot, Inter Miami could just go with youngster Julian Carranza as the No. 1 option given that he should be back to full health by the time the season resumes. Another alternative could be, however, to buy down the budget hit of winger Matias Pellegrini so as to free up a Designated Player slot that can be used on a more proven No. 9.
Just imagine that type of mouth-watering front four:
Of course, as of right now this is all conjecture.
There have been countless transfer rumors through the history of MLS linking big-name players with a move to, say, the New York or Los Angeles markets that never had an ounce of truth to them. In many instances, it usually ends up being a case of agents or teams trying to stir up interest in players, and drive the market for their services.
But if — and again, this is a big if — it is true and Rodriguez is actually an Inter Miami target, then opposing MLS teams better hope the move does not materialize. Adding the Colombian playmaker would make the expansion side a serious threat, in 2020 and beyond.