The arrival of Dani Ceballos at Real Madrid, which looks increasingly likely, will speed up James Rodríguez’ departure from the club.
Zidane looks for James exit
Zinedine Zidane has already asked the club to listen to offers for the Colombian. Given that Ceballos would immediately form part of the first-team squad at Madrid, James’ chances would become even scarcer. In 2016/17 he played just 1,823 minutes (33.38% of the total the team played) in 33 matches.
Zidane would have those minutes marked down for Ceballos, whom he sees as Modric’s eventual successor. The Croatian played 3,302 minutes last season, and will turn 32 in September. The plan is to gradually phase him out.
Ceballos deal is close
The Betis youngster, as with Marco Asensio last summer, wants to compete for a starting berth. As such, he told Quique Setién on Tuesday that he feels ready to make the jump to a bigger club. Ceballos would have to compete with Modric, Kroos, Kovacic, Isco, and Asensio in the centre of midfield.
Madrid will reach an agreement with Betis for the transfer of Ceballos, and the fee will be close to his €15m release clause. In return, Betis will attempt to secure a Real Madrid (Mayoral or Llorente) player on loan. The deal will be announced within the next week.
Chelsea, United, PSG keen on James
The future of James is far from clear. Yet Chelsea are willing to place a significant bid for the Colombian. The sale of Diego Costa to Atlético Madrid would provide an injection of cash that could be used to finance a deal for James. The 25-year-old was close to moving to Stamford Bridge in January 2017 to replace Oscar, who joined Shanghai SIPG. He opted to remain in Madrid, but Chelsea’s interest persists.
In any case, the West London club is not the only one with an interest in James. Manchester United also want him. Yet it appears unlikely that Real Madrid would want to strengthen their European Super Cup rival with both Morata (who already has an agreement with United), and James.
PSG are another interested party, but the French club are tied up in their pursuit of Kylian Mbappé. As a result, a deal for James could only be reached if Ángel De María secures a move to Inter Milan.
With the signing of Ceballos, James wants to tie-up his departure from Real Madrid in the next 48 hours.