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James Rodriguez's future with Real Madrid appears to be drawing to a close and a new theory from Los Blancos' fans seems to explain why the Colombian attacker has failed to set the world alight since his big money move from Monaco, three years ago.
Rodriguez, like Mesut Ozil, Lassana Diarra, Wesley Sneijder and Robinho before him, has had the number 10 shirt adorn his back since signing with Real and, much like his five predeccessors, has struggled to live up to the hype that preceded his arrival in the Spanish capital (OK, maybe Lassana Diarra didn't arrive with that much hype).
While the former Monaco and Porto man has two Champions Leagues and a La Liga title to his name, his time at Real has been disappointing at an individual level, with the likes of Isco and Marco Asensio being preferred to the 25-year-old.
And it may be because his number 10 shirt is carrying a curse that was put upon it at the turn of the century.
In 2000, Luis Figo made one of the most controversial moves in football history, when Real parted with a world record fee of £37 million to take the Portugal legend from Barcelona.
The number 10 was always synonymous with La Decima at the Bernabeu, but now it might be causing Los Blancos a few problems. Images: PA
The move made Figo public enemy number one in Catalonia, and he was promptly and infamously greeted by a flying pig's head upon his return to the Camp Nou.
AS are now reporting that a section of Real fans believe that, once Figo left the Bernabeu in 2005, a curse was placed upon Figo's number 10 as Barca's final revenge over their outrage over the transfer, five years earlier.
Given that Robinho never settled in the Spanish capital, scoring just 35 goals in four seasons at the Bernabeu and Diarra, a 2008 arrival from Portsmouth, was never regarded as anything other than a sub-par Claude Makelele impersonator by Madridistas, you can sort of see where the theorists have got the idea of a curse from.
Add to this the fact that Sneijder spent two miserable seasons between 2007-09 in which he spent more time going out in Madrid to escape the pressures associated with playing for a struggling Real side and the argument for the curse begins to stack up. A year after leaving Real, the Dutch midfielder would win a treble with Inter and reach the World Cup final with the Netherlands, with many believing he should have been awarded the Ballon d'Or ahead of Lionel Messi.
Much was expected of Robinho and Sneijder, but neither player could find their best form in Real's number 10 shirt. Images: PA
Ozil is a curious case, as the German playmaker did lift La Liga in 2012, proving to be a key figure in the league title winning success which ended Barcelona's dominance that had seen Pep Guardiola's men crowned champions three consecutive times between 2009-2011. However, the argument against the former Werder Bremen man was that he still often went missing in big games and was eventually sold to make way for Gareth Bale in 2013.
Diarra and Ozil both had their detractors at the Bernabeu. Images: PA
What do you make of the theory? Is Real's number 10 shirt cursed or is it just purely a combination of bad luck and poor decision making in the transfer market?
Have your say in the comments sections below and on our Facebook page.
(H/T The Mirror)
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