With just days left before the January transfer window opens, Rafa Benítez is reportedly hopeful in that Florentino Perez will strengthen his squad in the window by providing aging full-buck Marcelo with competition.
According to Sport’s Fernando Baquero, Real Madrid are said to have their eyes on a number of players, one of which being marauding Wolfsburg full-back Ricardo Rodríguez.
The report states that while the 23-year-old is pleased with the offer, he remains a Wolfsburg player for the time being.
"It’s an interesting offer, but I’m a Wolfsburg player and I will continue as a Wolfsburg player," he said, adding: "They are just rumors."
The Swiss international has been attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs, including Manchester United over the past two seasons. Rodríguez, known for his uncanny ability to contribute going forward has tallied 17 goals over the past two complete seasons.
While his personal offensive statistics are down this current campaign, along with his club who sit just seventh in the Bundesliga table, Rodríguez has showcased his defensive capabilities. Per Squawka, Rodríguez has registered 25 clearances, won 27 aerial duels and 20 tackles in just 12 league matches. Defensively, the young left-back is on par with the experienced Marcelo.
Therefore, why would Real Madrid be interested in adding the expensive full-back to their ranks?
The short answer: Depth.
Since allowing Fábio Coentrão to leave on loan to Monaco, Los Blancos have been short of competition at the left-back position. Bringing in Rodríguez as early as January would allow Marcelo crucial rest time as the player nears the peak of his career. Additionally, Rodríguez has proven he’s no slouch, registering more key passes than any other defender (144) in the Bundesliga over the past three seasons according to WhoScored.
Rodriguez is also gifted in size, measuring 180 centimeters while weighing 77 kilograms. His frame trumps the likes of potential counterparts, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal. Size means power, especially in Rodríguez’s case. Last season, no player in the same position with at least 20 appearances won more aerial duels while few completed more successful dribbles than Rodríguez. He’s a well rounded defender that would provide Real Madrid an upgrade in many defensive categories.
Furthermore, the Swiss has won 81 percent of his take-ons, a significantly higher percentage than Marcelo. His knack of bombing down the left side and whipping in pinpoint crosses has supplied Wolfsburg with numerous goal scoring chances over the past three seasons. During the current campaign, Rodríguez averages 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes despite losing teammate and goal scoring midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City in the Summer transfer window.
Overall, Rodríguez is a promising package especially since players tend not to peak until their mid-20’s. Real Madrid would have the luxury of entitling Rodríguez to learn from one of the world’s best in Marcelo before allowing the Swiss to take the reigns. Recruiting Rodríguez will by no means be a walk in the park for Perez as he’s made it known that Barcelona remain close to his heart.
Per Baquero, Rodríguez previously said, "I watch all the [Barcelona] games that I can. I like Carlos Puyol, for his character and professionalism, and Dani Alves, for his attacking way of playing."
With that being mentioned, the task of signing Rodríguez will be difficult but in the past, few players have turned down the allure of playing in the Santiago Bernabeu.