Rodriguez had made himself an international superstar that year by scoring an outrageous volley for Colombia against Uruguay at the World Cup in Brazil and collecting the Golden Boot with six goals. That volley also landed him FIFA’s prestigious Puskas Award.
Real Madrid secured an €80m (£63m) deal as Monaco cashed in while the player’s stock was high, but they weren’t the only club to put a contract offer on the table.
“PSG and City both wanted me. Both teams came with more lucrative offers but I wanted glory, I wanted Real Madrid,” Rodriguez recalled as he spoke to Twitch streamer Pelicanger.
“There is nothing like Real Madrid. [President] Florentino Perez called me and asked me: ‘What do you want, money or glory?’ I answered that what I wanted was glory. He replied: ‘Then, it’s done.’”
A year earlier, Manchester United had hoped to make Rodriguez one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final deals after previously missing out on Eden Hazard to Chelsea. But going from Porto to Monaco proved more appealing for reasons he later detailed in a chat with Rio Ferdinand’s The Locker Room in 2020, suggesting he was interested in heading to Old Trafford but had doubts about such a seismic move just a year before Colombia were due to play in their first World Cup since 1998.
“I think there was some kind of talk there. My agent has a great relationship with [United] – his name is Jorge Mendes,” Rodriguez explained.
“We always dream of getting in a big club. Since I was a child, I always admired Manchester, I always saw those teams with Rio together, with [Ryan] Giggs and [Paul] Scholes – there were a lot of prodigious players – and I wanted to get there in that year. But it didn’t happen.
“I thought I had to play for a club that wasn’t so big. From there, I went to France just before the World Cup and my plan was to go to the World Cup, have a great participation there, score goals, reach a good level and from there play for a big club. Then, the Real Madrid thing happened.”
Despite missing two months with a fractured metatarsal, Rodriguez enjoyed a strong first season in Madrid with 35 goals and assists in 46 appearances across all competitions.
But a change of manager from Carlo Ancelotti to Rafa Benitez and then an injury early in 2015/16 halted his momentum. By the following season, the Colombian was a fringe player and soon reunited with Ancelotti on a two-year loan at Bayern Munich.
Despite flashes of form, injuries limited him and the German giants opted against using a €42m option to buy, before a final season with Madrid yielded just eight La Liga appearances.
A 29-year-old Rodriguez showed signs of recapturing his old form upon joining Everton in 2020, playing under Ancelotti at a third different club, with six goals and assists in his first five Premier League games. But that soon dried up and injuries dictated the remainder of the campaign.
A year with Al Rayyan in Qatar followed, before returning to Europe with Olympiacos last season and then heading back to South American club football for the first time in 13 years when he linked up with Brazilian club Sao Paulo this past summer.