James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez Getty Images

Manchester United shunned an opportunity to sign Colombia and Monaco star James Rodriguez and instead chose to sign Bebe in 2010, according to the Guardian.

The report claims that the 22-year-old was available for £5m as scouts in South America and his agent attempted to bring the playmaker to a European club. Rodriguez was then plying his trade in Argentina with Club Atletico Banfield but despite the pitch there was no response from the then Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The legendary Scot then went on to swoop for Bebe from Portuguese outfit Vitoria de Guimaraes after paying £7.4m despite admitting that he never watched him play.

Rodriguez moved to Europe that year and joined FC Porto under Andre Villas-Boas' managerial reign and steadily shot into the limelight. United were looking to sign a playmaker last summer as their former manager David Moyes was hoping to make a positive impact at Old Trafford.

They were believed to be keen on signing the three-time Portuguese Primeira Liga winner. But his third party ownership and staggering price-tag complicated the transfer, enabling the French side to pounce on the chance to acquire the playmaker's services by shelling out £38.5m.

Rodriguez currently has the attention of the entire world owing to his dazzling performances for Jose Pekerman's at the World Cup in Brazil. The left-footed Colombian became the first player since the 2002 edition to score in the first four matches, etching his name alongside Brazilian superstars Ronaldo and Rivaldo.

Los Cafeteros have won all their Group C matches in the first round and sent Uruguay packing in the pre-quarterfinals, inflicting a 2-0 defeat at the Maracana on Saturday. Rodriguez netted both the goals against Oscar Tabarez's side and is currently staring at the prospect of winning the Golden Boot, having amassed five goals to his tally.

He is certain to court a massive transfer fee if he leaves Stade Louis II this summer. His agent Aytekin Erayabakan has fuelled speculations after claiming that several clubs across the continent have shown interest.

"I have spoken with Napoli, but they are not the only ones following Rodríguez. There are several European clubs after him, so let's see what the future holds. His price has no doubt increased after the way he has played in these last few months," the Guardian quoted Erayabakan as saying.

The Colombian international who will turn 23 on 12 July is thought to be mulling over an exit from the Ligue 1 outfit with United and Tottenham Hotspur lurking overhead. However, in a recent interview Rodriguez has revealed his intentions of playing in La Liga.

"I would love to play in Spain. It would be a dream to play there - it is the best league in the world. I prefer (Real) Madrid to Barcelona," the Express quoted the Colombian as saying.