Manchester United News: James Rodriguez To Be Jose Mourinho's First Signing? [Rumor]

It has been a rather busy week for Manchester United rumors. Not only has there been the usual spate of speculation linking the club with a number of transfers, but it's been widely suggested that manager Louis Van Gaal will be sacked at the end of the season to make way for Jose Mourinho.

The English press have now jumped at the chance to speculate over who Jose Mourinho might bring in when he takes over at Old Trafford. And, apparently, his first port of call for new recruits will be his old club Real Madrid.

Spanish news outlet Sport, via Manchester Evening News, have insisted that Colombian forward James Rodriguez is now allowed to leave the Bernabeu, following a period of indifferent form for the Spanish giants.

Manchester United's chief executive Ed Woodward, who handles the negotiations of the club's transfers, is known to be a huge fan of the player, who moved to Real Madrid from Monaco for just over $85 million after his hugely impressive displays at the 2014 World Cup. This saw him score the goal of the tournament, as well as winning the Golden Boot as the top goalscorer of the match.

Manchester United's hopes of landing the forward, who actually started the season rather brightly while Rafa Benitez was in charge, but has since dwindled since Zinedine Zidane took charge, have been increased by the revelation that the 24-year-old believes a transfer would help to rejuvenate his career.

This transfer news comes in the same week that the British press conclusively reported that Jose Mourinho will replace Louis Van Gaal as Manchester United's manager at the end of the season, with other reports insisting that he will be handed $400 million to buy players with.

Louis Van Gaal has been under a huge amount of pressure over the last few weeks. Not only were Manchester United fans upset because of the lack of attacking football at Old Trafford during Louis Van Gaal's reign, but a run of lacklustre form has seen the English club fall way off the pace in their pursuit of the Premier League title. They are now 12 points behind Leicester City, who are, surprisingly, top of the table.

In fact, Manchester United are currently outside of the Premier League top 4. They are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, and if they remain in fifth at the end of the season then their only chance of qualifying for the Champions League will come if they win the Europa League.

Because of this indifferent form, Louis Van Gaal's position as Manchester United manager has come repeatedly under threat. Various national newspapers (via Sky Sports) reported on Thursday that Mourinho is on the cusp of signing a three-year deal that will pay him over $20 million a year.

Speaking to the Independent, via the Daily Mail, Louis Van Gaal insisted that he didn't know if Manchester United had spoken with Jose Mourinho about the position.

"I have not said that we have spoken, but he [Mourinho] is my friend, so there you go," Van Gaal explained. "But I don't know if Manchester United have spoken with Mourinho or not. I can only say that I have spoken with Ed Woodward and I cannot imagine that they have spoken with each other. But I think that, if they want to change, they have to prepare themselves. That is also a professional attitude, in my opinion."

[Images via Associated Press]