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Real Madrid needed to sign James Rodríguez

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With Isco in the roster and the recent incorporation of Toni Kroos, James's spot was covered. However, it is not a bad move.

Denis Doyle

I would not have bought James Rodríguez. If I had been the one in charge, I would have signed Courtois and a pure striker to be a substitute for Benzema. But, as you already know, I would not have bought Toni Kroos or Gareth Bale either. Luckily for Real Madrid, it is not me who makes the calls when it comes to signing players.

The sentence "James Rodríguez is an unnecessary signing" has become a mantra all over the Spanish press, Twitter, Facebook, Managing Madrid comments and the train I take to go to college every morning. "Florentino's trading card collection", "World Cup hangover" and many other contemptuous sentences have been used by madridistas and anti-madridistas to refer to it, and I have to disagree with them because of the trivial fact that James is an extraordinary player.

Most teams in the world take part in their competitions using the rooted model consisting in a more or less stable lineup plus a few substitutes, who enter the field in second halves and start a few games that are considered easy. If your players don't suffer injuries throughout the season (quite unlikely) and their physical condition keeps at a regular level (even harder), eighteen players should suffice. In fact, a much larger roster can be perjudicial in such a case: it would be very difficult for some players to play and so they could get depressed, their competitive condition would be not optimal, etc..

However, these ideal conditions are hardly ever satisfied. Real Madrid aspires to play sixty-five games next season and so Ancelotti will obviously need to deal with injuries, bans, physical ups and downs and even with his players's muscular fatigue. These problems prevented us from winning the league last season, and it could have even been worse if we had not finally won the UCL final against Atlético, in which we did not have Pepe, a just recovered Khedira had to take Alonso's spot and Ronaldo and Benzema were in pain.

In order to succeed in all six competitions, some sort of rotation policy will need to be established and, in order to achieve that, signing James and Kroos can only be described as a wise move, since they clearly suppose an improvement with respect to losing Casemiro and Morata. Even if we sold one between Di María and Khedira, the balance would still be positive.

The main argument against these signings is based in the first model we have mentioned: "they don't fit together with our former players on the field", one could argue, and I would just reply that we don't need all our world-class players to fit together on the field. We just need them to be ready to do their best when our coach needs them. Should a player who takes part in 35-40 games in a season be considerer as a substitute? I just can't accept that.

We have already spoken about the versatility this Real Madrid's roster acquires after signing Kroos, but this is increased with James Rodríguez. Ryan Chase, who already assumes Di María will leave this summer, exemplifies it quite clearly by depicting a few lineups which seem competitive to me. I could even think of one with both Isco and James on the field (since another argument against signing James was that he'd cut Isco's progression) and without using either of them as a fake 9.

I am pretty sure that our coaching staff, who know about this a little more than we do, will be able to take advantage of the great players we have. Real Madrid's roster as a whole is stronger than it was last season. Some players will likely see their importance reduced but that should not be a problem. Remember, team comes first than anything.