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Goal's Brendon Netto suggests that Real Madrid's vanity may have persuaded them to sign James Rodriguez ahead of Falcao despite their greater need for the latter.


     BY BRENDON NETTO     Follow @BrendonNetto


Marquee signings are a way of life for the biggest football clubs on the planet. Not only do they need top quality on the pitch to give them that extra edge but they also need marketable commodities off it. A high profile signing helps expand their fan base, sell more merchandise, please sponsors and attract even more.

However, Real Madrid stand alone in their obsession with signing 'Galacticos'. Buying the world's most renowned players has become part of their philosophy. They have made a habit of coveting the most expensive toy in the shop window. Such is their fascination with the seemingly unattainable that they often prioritize the most sought after player ahead of the practical option.

That’s precisely what happened when the La Liga giants shelled out a massive €81 million for Colombian sensation James Rodriguez this month. While the youngster lit up the World Cup with his stunning performances, he was virtually off the main circuit with AS Monaco and hardly generated any hype prior to the tournament.

Yes, he is a truly gifted player with fantastic potential but the way his market price shot up after six games is a tad absurd. What are the odds that he was on Madrid’s radar before his displays in Brazil? – slim to none. But now that he’s the flavour of the month, they just had to have him.

Of course, there’s not much wrong with that approach. They managed to land Cristiano Ronaldo the year after he won the Ballon d’Or and it’s certainly paid off. Their persistent courting of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale paid dividends too and imagine their delight when they were able to recruit one of Germany’s best in Toni Kroos for a rumoured €25 million fresh from his World Cup win.

However, in James’ case, one can’t help but think that Madrid’s vanity bungled their priorities. The Golden Boot winner has been graced with the number 10 shirt at the Bernabeu but attacking midfield is hardly the area that the team needed to bolster.

With Karim Benzema never quite living up to his billing and Alvaro Morata off to Juventus, what the champions of Europe really need is a striker fit to spearhead an illustrious attack that includes Ronaldo and Bale.

For a long time Radamel Falcao was touted as the perfect candidate. Over four seasons with FC Porto and Atletico Madrid, the striker plundered 142 goals in just 178 appearances. He got off to a decent start to his career at Monaco as well, scoring 11 times in 19 games but was ruled out for six months in January due to a knee injury.

Ironically, Falcao’s set-back ruled him out of the World Cup and allowed James to flourish with the spotlight all to himself. A front three of Falcao, Ronaldo and Bale would be just what Madrid need to take them to the next level.

Last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s troops stumbled towards the end of the league campaign when Bale and particularly, Ronaldo got injured. They finished just 3 points behind champions Atletico and if they had a prolific striker, they may have even clinched a historic treble.

Benzema simply hasn’t matched up to the quality he has around him. He has a tendency for being wasteful in front of goal. While Lionel Messi and Diego Costa missed 22 big chances each in the league last season, they made up for it by scoring 28 and 27 goals respectively. Benzema missed 21 big chances but only scored 17, 12 of which were clear cut opportunities as well.

His link up play has always been good but Madrid need an out-and-out goal scorer and that’s what Falcao is. Had it not been for their infatuation with James, they may have considered a move for Luis Suarez more seriously as well.

James could well be a great signing but the fact is he wasn’t a necessity, not with Isco, Modric and now even Kroos in the squad. A striker on the other hand is something they’re in dire need of. While it’s naturally dicey to buy a player who’s just recovering from a six month lay-off, Falcao’s track record speaks for itself.

Furthermore, the Colombian is a marquee signing in his own right. His stock may have dipped while he’s been out of action this year but that’s what makes a taking a gamble on him a worthwhile risk. While it means Madrid are less enchanted by him now, it also means several million euros have probably been shaved off his market price at the moment.

After passing up the opportunity to sign Suarez, although Barcelona appeared to have struck a deal as early as last year, Falcao is just the player they need. At 28, he’s fully matured and in his prime. If they’re going to sign him, now’s the time to do it while he’s still at the peak of his powers. The only question is whether or not he’s still retains the allure to draw them in.


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