Liverpool will have to secure a top-four finish if Jurgen Klopp is to land one of his prime targets at the end of the season.
The Daily Mirror states the Reds are confident of luring James Rodriguez to Anfield from Real Madrid at the end of the season as the Colombian ace has grown unsettled in the Spanish capital, following three-years of troubles.
Colombia’s World Cup hero from 2014 secured a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in the wake of the international tournament in South America but, with the next World Cup just around the corner, the former Monaco man hasn’t established himself as the superstar many thought he would become.
That could work into Liverpool’s hands, as the Premier League seems a likely destination, but they’ll face a challenge in the final two months of the season to establish themselves in a position where a deal could be completed.
Why is top-four so important?
James Rodriguez is keen to ensure his next club is playing in the Champions League and that puts the ball in Liverpool’s court, with the Reds currently sat fourth in the Premier League standing and having a favourable run in the back-end of the season.
However, Klopp’s side have struggled against bottom-half clubs this season and fans will be concerned that those struggles could continue- especially as five of their remaining nine fixtures in the league are against side’s sat in the bottom-half.
Their other opponents, Everton, West Brom, Stoke and Southampton, can also be seen as potential banana skins for the Reds to avoid and the fact that both Manchester United and Arsenal have two games in hand makes Klopp’s position look even more difficult.
If Liverpool don’t finish in the Champions League spots, their chances of securing a move for James Rodriguez this summer would look significantly bleaker.
Where would James fit in?
With an attacking line that boasts the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, amongst others, it may be difficult to see where James would fit-in at Anfield. However, the threat of losing Coutinho is something Liverpool may have to face up to.
The Brazilian continues to attract the interest of top-clubs in Europe, including Barcelona, and the South American star may consider a move to boost his chances of being a crucial part of his national side in the World Cup next summer.
However, securing Champions League football could be enough to persuade Coutinho to stay for at least another year and if they were to keep him amongst their ranks, then a move for James wouldn’t be necessary.