As Real Madrid prepare to take Granada at early lunch time on Saturday, questions are not raised on whether Zinedine Zidane’s men will be able to record a HT/FT win they stand at 2/7 betting odds to achieve, but rather on another issue.
An issue dealing with the uncertain future of the Colombian star James Rodriguez, who has endured mixed fortunes at Real Madrid under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane.
Rodriguez has been the subject of much transfer speculation lately with a number of clubs reportedly interested in securing the Real Madrid unsettled star’s signature. Chelsea, Juventus and Manchester United are lining up behind the Colombian midfielder, whose future remains in doubt despite the most recent developments.
To Stay or not to Stay, that is the Question
The alternative version of the soliloquy phrase spoken by Prince Hamlet seems to be a fitting way to describe James Rodriguez’s current situation at Real Madrid.
Instead of celebrating his team’s FIFA Club World Cup glory back in December, the frustrated Colombian went on to hint towards the January exit. Claiming he can no longer “guarantee” his future with Los Blancos, Rodriguez basically issued a come-and-get-me-plea to Europe’s top clubs monitoring his situation.
But after sealing a brace in a comfortable 3-0 win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey last 16 first leg on Wednesday, Rodriguez seemed to have changed his mind revealing he will not be “changing clubs this month”.
Whether it was a simple mind game to put pressure on Zinedine Zidane or just another sign of insecurity and self-doubt, James Rodriguez is either way not closer to finding the ultimate truth behind his place in Zidane’s plans.
After only four La Liga starts in the Spanish La Liga however, the 25-year-old should have already drawn clear conclusions.
Where did it all go wrong for James?
Perceived lack of professionalism and excessive weight issues marked the beginning of James Rodriguez’s life under new coach Zinedine Zidane. The Colombian had been accused of an over-indulgence in nightlife and criticised over his physical condition rifle which all ended up messing with his head.
“The talk really bothers me”, Rodriguez was quoted back in 2016 as he struggled to prove a point to the French manager.
From a member of La Liga BBVA best XI of the 2014-15 season under Carlo Ancelotti to a fringe player for the French legend, Rodriguez’s plunge came as a surprise for many. He struggled to rediscover his form from the season during which he scored 13 goals and recorded as many assists, whereas Zidane’s change in style and system only made it harder for James to push through to the first team.
Los Blancos boss has eliminated a Number 10 role in his formation, predominantly fielding a 4-3-3 system with a holding midfielder and two back-ups behind a three-man frontline.
James Rodriguez did play in different attacking positions in the past, but a no. 10 role suits his qualities the best.
Defined as a player with inch-perfect crossing, a great eye for defence-splitting passes and a powerful shot which makes him a menace around the box, James Rodriguez has been stifled and his impact reduced significantly.
In the last game against Sevilla however, James Rodriguez was played at right-wing, the position he successfully occupied while at Porto, and it yielded great results for the Colombian. His inside cuts allowed him to score a beautiful goal, diagonal balls to wingers on the other side of the pitch created a great deal of problems for Los Rojiblancos.
The return of Gareth Bale will, most likely, close the first-team doors to James Rodriguez, who is facing a struggle to keep his place in the team.
In one word – uncertain.
One thing is definite, Real Madrid will not be selling the Colombian in January given the fact their FIFA transfer ban is yet to expire. With Los Blancos still forbidden to sign new players, losing a viable first-team option is out of the question.
As for the summer, who knows.
From the current perspective, James Rodriguez would be best off at another club – Manchester United or Juventus, who could utilise his qualities to the maximum – alongside Paul Pogba and Miralem Pjanic, respectively.
There is a long road ahead of us all and James Rodriguez as well and only time will tell whether his brilliant exploits against Sevilla would be enough for a change of fortunes.
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