With Kingsley Coman ruled out for the next several months, Bayern Munich finds itself in a precarious position with regard to its wingers. Serge Gnabry is injured, meaning that the club have only ageing Robbery to man the extremely important left and right wings, and both of them have declined significantly and are historically very injury prone. Fans and the media are calling on the club to finally make some big signings — perhaps get Anthony Martial, who has fallen out with Mourinho at Manchester United. However, maybe there’s a better option ...
Enter James Rodriguez
Despite playing largely as a midfielder in recent seasons for both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, James Rodriguez started his life in Europe as a winger. Going on transfermarkt and looking at the goals and assists James got over the years playing on either the left or right wings, an interesting feature reveals itself:
James at Porto: (Liga NOS, Europa League, and Champions League)
Season 10/11: 19 G+A in 1,323 minutes, averaging 1.29 G+A per 90 minutes.
Season 11/12: 24 G+A in 2,440 minutes, averaging 0.86 G+A per 90 minutes.
Season 12/13: 21 G+A in 2,342 minutes, averaging 0.81 G+A per 90 minutes.
Total: 64 G+A in 6,105 minutes, averaging 0.94 G+A per 90 minutes.
James at Monaco: (Ligue 1 only, no European games)
Season 13/14: 6 G+A in 514 minutes, averaging 1.05 G+A per 90 minutes.
James at Real Madrid: (La Liga, Champions League)
Season 14/15: 13 G+A in 1,139 minutes, averaging 1.03 G+A per 90 minutes.
Season 15/16: 9 G+A in 796 minutes, averaging 1.02 G+A per 90 minutes. (Thanks, Zidane.)
Season 16/17: 3 G+A in 510 minutes, averaging 0.53 G+A per 90 minutes. (THANKS ZIDANE)
Total: 25 G+A in 2,445 minutes, averaging 0.92 G+A per 90 minutes.
As we can see from above, throughout his career, James has registered around 0.9 G+A per 90 minutes while playing on the wings, which are good numbers even by the lofty standards of Bayern Munich. However, I know what you’re thinking. Wouldn’t a real winger be better? Well, let’s take a look at Anthony Martial and see how he fares in wide areas:
Martial at Monaco: (Ligue 1)
Martial played sporadically on the wings at Monaco, and managed a single assist. Not great. I’m not going to bother calculating a per 90 value for a two or three game sample size.
Martial at Manchester United: (Premier League, Europa League, and Champions League)
Season 15/16: 11 G+A in 1,898 minutes, averaging 0.52 G+A per 90 minutes.
Season 16/17: 9 G+A in 1,742 minutes, averaging 0.46 G+A per 90 minutes.
Season 17/18: 9 G+A in 1,572 minutes, averaging 0.51 G+A per 90 minutes.
I won’t give you a total because the seasonal averages speak for themselves. Martial’s averages are abysmal on the wing because of one simple reason — he’s a center forward. The player Manchester United paid through the nose for in the summer of 2015 was a center forward, and he had played like one for his entire senior career up to that point.
James has shown over and over again, for a long period of time and at three different clubs, that he can play as a winger and be very good at it. Instead of forking out 50 million on someone who can’t cut the mustard, let’s give our Colombian superstar the reigns for a while. It will be cheaper — something the front office always loves — and we will probably come out all the better for it.