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Manchester United have stepped up their pursuit of Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez according to reports from The Independent.

The 25-year old has long been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu, after having seen a major reduction in playing time since the arrival of manager Zinedine Zidane. And reports earlier emerged this week that the Colombian playmaker wanted to join the Red Devils only and was threatening the club to force through a move to the Old Trafford (Don Balon via Daily Star).

The reason behind this sudden stepping up of negotiations is believed to be the potential exit of captain Wayne Rooney. ‘Wazza‘ is set for a return to his former boyhood club Everton in the summer, with the Toffees already reported to have agreed terms with our leading goal-scorer over a £250,000-per-week wage (The Telegraph).

Manager Jose Mourinho, who was understood to be concerned previously about a move for James, sees this as a chance to fit the Colombian into his scheme of things, with a place opening up in the squad with Rooney’s impending transfer. The former AS Monaco man’s star appeal and marketability is also something that the club could hugely benefit from.

We haven’t had the best of relations with Madrid in recent years, following the failed transfer of David De Gea a couple of years ago, and the recent situation with Alvaro Morata hasn’t done anything to improve things either.

The Spaniard was reportedly our top target in the summer, to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the spearhead of the attack, but with Real Madrid unwilling to budge on their €90million price tag for the player, Mou and Ed Woodward have turned their attention towards Romelu Lukaku of Everton and we have reportedly agreed a £75million fee with the Merseysiders for the Belgian, leaving Morata and Madrid hanging.

However, this isn’t said to be hampering any negotiations over James, as the twelve time Champions League winners remain keen on selling the playmaker in order to generate funds to sign Kylian Mbappe from AS Monaco.

James joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2014 from Monaco, following an excellent FIFA World Cup 2014, for £71million and Madrid president Florentino Perez is keen on recouping as much as possible from his sale.