James has seen his career at the Santiago Bernabeu go off the boil under former coach Rafa Benitez and his successor Zinedine Zidane, making only seven league starts so far in 2015-16. His recent exclusion from the Frenchman’s first starting XI against Deportivo La Coruna has sparked speculation that the 24-year-old’s time in Madrid could be nearing an early end.
And Goal understands that United have been alerted to James’ potential availability by the player’s agent Jorge Mendes, who has developed an extensive relationship with the Old Trafford club in recent years on a number of notable transfers.
Any move for James could see United spend in excess of the £59.7 million (€75m) they paid to land Angel Di Maria from Madrid in 2014, with this summer potentially the prime moment for the Reds to swoop.
Mendes has become known as one of football’s biggest-hitting agents, with players including Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao, David de Gea and Thiago Silva in his portfolio, and United have been a key ally in recent years.
James has become an increasingly disconsolate figure this term, with his current form being a point of major contention in his native Colombia. With his wife, Daniela Ospina having remained in South America for a period of more than three months to take part in the latest series of TV talent show ‘Dancing with the Stars’, the former Porto star has seen neither his wife nor two-year-old daughter for some time.
That in turn has led to speculation that his marriage could be on the rocks, with his poor form being a consequence of the personal toll. Yet Mendes’ attempts to open lines of communication regarding a transfer could see James given a fresh start in England.
United boss Louis van Gaal has admitted that he would like to sign another forward, bemoaning a lack of pace in the final third. And while he has spoken of a winger being a key target, the capture of one of the world’s foremost creative attackers would represent a coup for United.
The club made an initial bid for Barcelona star Neymar in the summer of 2015 and retain a strong interest in the Brazilian, while Real Madrid lynchpin Gareth Bale remains a key target at Old Trafford.
But Madrid’s transfer ban looks set to provide a major obstacle in their pursuit of either Bale or former United favourite Ronaldo, as well as a possible sale of De Gea to the Spanish giants. However, James’ current slump could render him sellable despite his position at the Bernabeu as one of the vaunted ‘Galacticos’.
Beyond his abilities on the pitch, James’ significant commercial status is also considered to be a huge attraction to United and his early difficulties with Zidane could well entice them into the market.
James joined Madrid from Monaco in an €80 million deal in August 2014 after his starring performances for Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil, paving the way for Angel di Maria’s exit to United in the process.