DAYS after finishing the World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals, Colombia forward James Rodriguez yesterday signed a six-year deal with Real Madrid, believed to be worth £63 million.
The 23-year-old Rodriguez, who helped Colombia reach the quarter-finals in Brazil, passed a medical examination at the Sanitas Clinic in the northern suburb of La Moraleja. “I’m very happy,” Rodriguez said as he left the clinic. “Everything went well.”
In the afternoon he was presented to thousands of cheering fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Many wore Colombian national colours and waved flags. Real president Florentino Perez welcomed the forward and referred to him as James – which he pronounced in the Spanish style as ha-mesz.
Perez said the late Madrid great and honorary president Alfredo Di Stefano had also come to the club from Colombia, where he had been playing before his arrival in Spain.
“Colombia will be at your side,” said Perez, raising a loud cheer from fans in the stadium.
Rodriguez said: “I hope to win many titles here,” adding the club chant “Hala Madrid”.
Spanish sports newspapers Marca and As both reported that Madrid had agreed to pay French club Monaco €80 million for Rodriguez. He is expected to join the squad on 1 August.
Rodriguez’s sublime goal against Uruguay in the second round of the World Cup, when he chested the ball down and then volleyed it in, was voted the best goal of the tournament.
He will strengthen Madrid’s already formidable attacking line-up, joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. He will wear the No 10 shirt vacated when Mesut Ozil left Madrid for Arsenal and it will be inscribed just “James”.
Rodriguez, who joined Monaco from Porto last year, is Madrid’s second signing ahead of the new season after Germany midfielder Toni Kroos joined last week from Bayern Munich.
Rodriguez began his professional career with Colombian side Envigado before moving to Argentinian club Banfield aged 17. His performances for the Buenos Aires outfit attracted the attention of Porto, who signed him for £4million in 2010, and three years later he joined Monaco for £38.5million after helping the Portuguese side win a hat-trick of league titles and the 2011 Europa League.
The left-footed player scored ten goals in 38 matches for Monaco last season as they finished second in Ligue 1 behind Paris St Germain. Monaco said they had not been looking to sell Rodriguez but described the deal as “one of the most significant transfers in football history”.
A statement on www.asm-fc.com read: “The club would like to take the opportunity to thank James for the role he played in getting the club back to the Champions League and wishes him the very best for the future. The club had no intention to sell the player, however the time came when the solution of a transfer was considered to be the most beneficial for all parties. Monaco is proud to be a party to one of the most significant transfers in football history. Monaco is a club that will continue to grow and remains focused on the future. More than ever it has the ambition to strengthen the team and continue to progress for next season.”
WORLD’S TOP TEN TRANSFERS
1 Gareth Bale (£86 million, Tottenham to Real Madrid, 2013)
The Welshman became the world’s most expensive player last summer with his move to Madrid. Despite a slow start thanks to a pre-season injury, Bale went on to score 22 goals in 40 appearances in his first season, with 16 assists.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo (£80 million, Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2009)
Ronaldo’s five seasons at Madrid have been a huge success. As well as guiding his team to La Decima this season, in five years the Portugese star has scored 223 goals in just 208 appearances.
3 Luis Suarez (£75 million, Liverpool to Barcelona, 2014)
The striker this month completed his “dream move” to Spain after his 31 goals last season almost brought Liverpool their first title in 24 years. His appetite for biting people, though, means he won’t be seen in a Barcelona shirt until late October thanks to a four-month ban.
4 James Rodriguez (£63 million, Monaco to Real Madrid, 2014)
The undoubted star of this year’s Fifa World Cup, Rodriguez has completed his transfer to the Champions League winners one year after moving to Monaco. Los Blancos will be hoping that the Colombian replicates the form he showed this summer on a regular basis.
5 Kaka (£56 million, AC Milan to Read Madrid, 2009)
Kaka’s move to Madrid made him the world’s most expensive player. That Ronaldo surpassed that fee just weeks later effectively summed up Kaka’s time in Spain, with the Brazilian overshadowed by Ronaldo in every respect. He managed 28 goals in 110 appearances and can now be found playing for Orlando City.
6 Edinson Cavani (£55 million, Napoli to PSG, 2013)
Cavani moved to PSG after scoring 78 goals in three seasons at Napoli. The 27-year-old striker has not fully replicated his form for the French champions, but still managed 22 goals in 39 appearances last season.
7 Radamel Falcao (£51 million, Atletico Madrid to Monaco, 2013)
Falcao completed his big-money move after scoring 32 goals for Atletico Madrid the previous season. His first year in France was blighted by injury, with anterior cruciate ligament damage ruling him out of the rest of the campaign and the World Cup.
8= Fernando Torres (£50 million, Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011)
Roman Abramovich broke the British transfer record by signing Torres, but that is the only thing the Spaniard’s three years in London will be remembered for so far. The striker has been largely considered a flop for Chelsea, scoring 46 goals in 172 appearances.
8= David Luiz (£50 million, Chelsea to PSG, 2014)
Luiz became the world’s most expensive defender after his move this summer, and will partner compatriot Thiago Silva in PSG’s defence. He will be hoping to put his performances for Brazil in the World Cup out of his mind.
10 Neymar (£49 million, Santos to Barcelona, 2013)
A transfer deal shrouded in controversy, Neymar originally moved to Barcelona in a deal worth £49 million last summer. Recent revelations have shown add-ons in the contract worth millions of pounds. On the field, the Brazilian had an indifferent first campaign, managing just 13 goals in 37 appearances.