In-depth report on who James Rodriguez could replace at Arsenal


Reports emerging from multiple media outlets, including the Daily Mirror, suggest that Real Madrid have accepted Arsenal’s possible record-breaking bid for James Rodriguez. Arsenal must have felt Rodriguez would bring something special to the squad. Something worth breaking the record transfer fees for. In terms of talent and potential, Rodriguez would be up there with the likes of Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang, world class.

And in terms of pedigree, Rodriguez has come through the hands of some of the best clubs in the footballing world having played for Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Porto and Monaco among others. However, Rodriguez has failed to live up to his hype, thus far. He famously pronounced himself to the world stage through the 2014 World Cup where his exploits saw him carry his country Colombia through into the quarter-finals of that tournament, prompting Real Madrid to a make an over $100 Million purchase to take him to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in what was the fourth most expensive transfer of all time back in 2014.

Having failed to secure an outright starting berth at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid allowed James Rodriguez to join Bayern Munich on loan. Rodriguez has not really managed to set Munich alight either and Real Madrid may be willing to let him go.

For Arsenal to be making this transfer, many would not be wrong in assuming Rodriguez is coming to Arsenal to replace Mesut Ozil. And Ozil has not been the best friend of himself this term. Of a possible 21 matches in the EPL, this season so far Mesut Ozil has played in just 13 and started in 12 of those and was in the bench for one. Mesut Ozil has had ‘mysterious’ back and knee problems ending up missing 5 matches through injury, yet in some cases he has been left out of the squad altogether for tactical reasons, driving speculation about his importance to manager Unia Emery’s plans. His statistics reads 3 goals and 1 assist from 14 games. With half the season gone it means there may not be enough matches for these kinds of statistics to improve for him. This is far cry from previous seasons when Ozil would miss just a few matches and would score goals and make many assists. For instance, he racked up 4 goals and 9 assists from 26 matches in 2017/18 season, and had 8 goals and 10 assists in 2016/17 season, with his most productive season being 2015/16 where he scored 6 times and assisted a whopping 19 times.

However, a reading into Rodriguez’s statistics suggests, Unai Emery should make a shock decision and bring in Rodriguez to replace…take a deep breath… Granit Xhaka! Here are some three reasons why.

The best means of defending is attacking which requires dominance. It is what Liverpool and Man City are doing right now. It is what Barcelona is known for. It is what Bayern, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid are made of. It was what the Arsenal of yore – the Invincibles – were known for. Arsenal should score more frequently, score much earlier, convert most chances created into goals, and therefore Arsenal needs to be shaped around superior attack and score default system.

A player like James Rodriguez would certainly help bring through more competence in dominance, being a competent ball keeper, ball runner and dribbler. He is an incisive passer of the ball and has this deadly technique where he makes 1, 2 or 3 touches on the ball which helps him opens up space and quickly release passes in just a few seconds, turning seemingly harmless moves into dangerous attacks instantly. This suggests that he can start off recoveries and escalate them into superb counters much like Santi Carzola used to do from the deep-lying playmaker position. His ability to score goals from virtually all over the pitch means the opposition will have an extra person to man mark and being in the central midfield area, he would likely pull away defenders ruining their formation. As a dead-ball specialist, it means opposition would rather not risk giving away a dead ball situation like a free kick or corner and would be cautious in coming through to attack. This all amounts to a player who can wrestle dominance in the area most needed, at the pre-attack stage. This stage normally happens at the central midfield. Further inside the midfield and with lesser attention from opposition defenders, he would do lots of damage compared to many other players. With Lucas Torreira at his side, Rodriguez would flourish by helping to transition defending to deadly attacking, which would bring Aubameyang and Lacazette into better scoring chances.

His play pattern suggests that he would result in more interventions in a match, to help turn the game around in favour of Arsenal as compared to Xhaka, from that central midfield area.

Let’s look at the numbers starting with the goals scored over the careers of the two stars Granit Xhaka and James Rodriguez. We can only look at the position they have both featured in prominently for comparison – Central Midfield. Over his career, Granit Xhaka has featured in the central midfield role 77 times. In terms of goals, he has scored 9 times and made 9 assists from this position. If we work out the percentages, we get 11.6% performance percentage over these two parameters.

From the same position James Rodriguez has featured here 22 times. Of those 22 appearances, he has scored 7 times and made 12 assists. That works out to 31.8% for goals and 44% for assists. Averagely, he gets 37.9%!

Of course, there is the defensive work to be done in this area and James Rodriguez has weaknesses in those parameters. Some of those weaknesses are that his tracking back and his aerial duel delivery are poor. I’m sure Xhaka would move closer to him averagely if such parameters like blocks, interceptions, tackles and recoveries were to be included.

For purposes of context, let’s look at some prominent players who have featured in this role internationally. Aaron Ramsey, played 160 career times as a central midfielder, scored 38, made 26 assists. He scores 19.6%, Santi Carzola played 72 times, 6 goals 15 assists and gets 14.5%, Cesc Fabregas Played 233 times, 29 goals and 77 assists to get 22.5%, Andreas Iniesta Played 413 times, 31 goals 83 assists and therefore gets 13.75%, Xavi Played 513 times, 57 goals 135 assist gets 18.71%, Andrea Pirlo 37 times 2 goals 7 assists gets 12.15%, Ngolo Kante played 111 times 10 goals, 13 assists to get 10.35%.

From these statistics, we can try to establish James Rodriguez’s best position over the tenure of his career thus far.

From the right wing he has 27 goals from 73 games here. That’s 36%
From the left-wing, he has 19 goals out of 58 outings coming to 32%
From attacking midfield, he has 27 goals from 100 appearances ending up 27%
From central midfield, we had already worked out that he gets 31.8%

From the right-wing, he has 27 assists from 73 games here. That’s 36%
From the left-wing, he has 20 assists out of 58 outings coming to 34%
From attacking midfield, he has 36 assists from 100 appearances ending up 38%
From central midfield, we had already worked out that he gets 44%

Unified Performance Indicator
From the right-wing, he has 36 % for goals added to 27% assists. That’s 31.5%
From the left-wing, he has 32% for goals added to 34% assists coming to 33%
From attacking midfield, he has 27% for goals 38% assists and we end up with 32%
From central midfield, we have 31.8% and he gets 44% for assists which ends up with 37%

Clearly, James Rodriguez’s best deployment is central midfield if these weird statistics are to be believed and he is way ahead of Granit Xhaka whom Arsenal deploys in this area. Should Rodriguez, therefore, replace Granit Xhaka in Central Midfield?

Source of stats: Transfermarkt

Nicholas Oyoo


  1. Franko says:

    Yes …Because of his attacking prowess, he should replace Xhaka in CM and playing along side Suarez and Torriera….we will be stronger and faster in attack; scoring more goals and probably concede less. We need quick footed players with pace and skill and I think Arsenal should also look into signing this Messi-like player ….ABDULKADIR OMUR….Watch him:

  2. Lupe says:

    Surprising statistics but this james rumour is obviously false as he is beyond our budget and moreover we need center backs and wingers not another attacking midfielder.

  3. Grandad says:

    Nicholas you have obviously spent some time in preparing what is an informative article.Unfortunately, given the fact that Arsenal are strapped for cash and belong to a man who is unlikely to introduce funds for new acquisitions, the chances of our Club buying JR are as remote as common sense being spoken in the House of Commons.

    1. jon fox says:

      Nothing can possible be THAT remote. About “sense in the Commons”. But Nicolas’ article is the closest to total nonsense I HAVE SEEN. His nonsensical total reliance on pointless and poorly chosen stats makes a mockery of how he thinks. A bad article and not his first one either. Not by a long way.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        jon, please give Nicholas credit for having a go; such articles at least give rise to discussion.
        Agree will Grandad, this signing is as remote as Trump not telling porkies.

  4. Eddie Hoyte says:

    Lol …after seeing the title I knew it’ll be no one other than Nicholas Oyoo.. Man makes some good points when he writes but is always dreaming and he has a penthouse in fantasy land.. I don’t even believe Arsenal will spend that amount on James, and I won’t want that to ever happen. If we really want to spend 60million why not go for Martial or better still the best option, Jadon Sancho? That amount will be too much to turn down and he’s young.
    The way we all keep pointing out players that are deteriorating as our choice is still a mystery to me, Cahill, Godin, Ever Banega?? Benatia??… Right let’s get a James Rodriguez who failed to live up to his hype and potentials just because he’s slightly better than what we have, i don’t know if you guys watch football but he’s also inconsistent..
    People talk bout Pep spending, Of all the players Pep brought in how many players were up to the age of 27?
    That’s one thing that still scares me about that City team, other than Fernandinho, Silva nd Aguero… the rest of the squad will have so many years together, imagine the understanding that team already has and how many years they’ll be allowed to create wonders together.. then down here we keep mentioning and considering old rejects.. The Arsenal way is a mystery?

  5. Efe Iteire says:

    He is too expensive, the money could be use to fund the purchase two central defenders .An area we need to strengthen

  6. Sue says:

    OT looks like we’ll have everyone fit for Saturday… happy days

  7. Roshan says:

    Yep no chance for Rodriguez especially in January.
    Im afraid best we can hope for is Yannick Carrasco and Denis Suarez.
    I’m praying if we take one its Carrasco.
    Even then both might be too expensive, how sad is that! Stand Kronke is a chump.

  8. McLovin says:

    No chance unfortunately.

    I doubt we will even get Carrasco since that Chinese club paid £27 millions for him just a year ago. Even Suarez deal looks unlikely, we can’t afford his £15m price tag LOL.

    And why is Elneny still here?! Just sell him already!

  9. Martin says:

    People are in cloud cuckoo land if anybody thinks we will pay that sort of money at this time for Rodriguez. Our priority must be a world class centre back……

  10. Goonster says:

    I have always been a big fan of this James Rodrigues. But it seems he turned a bit like Ozil.

    I thought this guy would be a close replacement to Cesc that played as a No10 / attacking midfielder in that season he scored something like 15 goal and 15 assists.

    What I am starting to notice is that we bow go for players that other big clubs are wanting to let go (Ozil, Sanchez, Mkhi, Higuain, James Rodrigues etc) or players that the big clubs are interested in (Auba, Laca etc) and we pay premium for them on top of the massive contracts we hand them.

    And then in some cases we are left with alright players on massive wages that no one else wants.

    I can see a pattern here. We just seem to have no set plan, all we seem to do is be on a look our for any player that the other big clubs want to let go and we go for them even if they might not fit the formation.

    I prefer players that will fit instead of going for rejected so called big names for the sake of a big name.

  11. ThirdManJW says:

    I haven’t really been following James’ career in too much detail, but hasn’t he been missing for about 2/3 years? Reminds me of Kaka. Went to Real, and then career just went down the pan.

  12. ger burke says:

    okay, i stopped reading this article as soon as the writer called ozil world class!!!. i am sure it is an intresting article, but i just could not carry on .

  13. Invisible says:

    Isco not Rodriguez if ” Satan ” is ready to sanction a big money move. But I guess it’ll be another “we tried with a huge bid”.

  14. Break-on-through says:

    In 357 games total, clubs and country, he has 99 goals and 118 assists. Not too shabby for a midfielder who gets shipped about quite often. I don’t know if I believe this rumour. It doesn’t quite fit with what we’re hearing, trying to loan Suarez and looking at freebie Herrera, unless that is due to us trying to use our money elsewhere. He could be a quality option depending on his drive, he hasn’t lived up to the hype as you say, but there is something in his makeup all the same.

  15. jon fox says:

    Nicholas, I have tosay that your mangling together of stats are silly and pointless. You are not comparing like with like in the least. Like many on here, you are far too reliant on stats which at their very best -and yours are not useful at all- are only EVER a guide and not the be all and end all you appear to think. Rodriquez and Xhaka are totally different players in style, in best position, in quality, in mobility and in almost everything else too. To compare them at all is plain silly. I have no idea if Rodriquez is still remotely near the top quality he was once hyped up to be. He may be OR he my not. But it is CERTAIN that the mediocre(and I am trying to be kind to him) Xhaka is not fit to lace his boots. His OWN boots that is, as Xhaka should be nowhere near ANY Arsenal first team.

    Your posts, in general, are those of a young and non thinking person , put together from well meaning but nonsensical reliance on ludicrously poorly chosen stats with FAR too much reliance on them. A rank poor article altogether , IMO. Sorry , but I must be true to what I REALLY THINK.

  16. Leeman says:

    Seriously, how many times do we hear and read that Arsenal want to sign this or that player during transfer windows. Fact is, we don’t have funds to sign any half decent players so the stats are totally useless. Why must we be linked to all the has beens or rejects from other clubs who are clearly over the hill. I would rather that the club sign young players to take the club forward. spent money on players with resale value.

    1. Martin says:

      Totally correct, really how many of these ridiculous rumours of us supposedly trying to sign big players actually come true. Truth is when we go after a player we do not announce it or let it slip that we are going to sign anybody. This is just lazy journalism from reporters too lazy to get real stories.

  17. Sergio says:

    I feel your stats and percentages are a limited view of performance indicators.

    I’m not really keen on him, I don’t think he’d be a huge improvement on Ramsey, especially for that money.

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