Outspoken former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov has described James Rodriguez as an “average player”, warning the Real Madrid midfielder to improve or risk becoming just another footballer at the European champions.
James played a starring role for Colombia at the Copa America Centenario in the United States, helping his country to third place at the centenary tournament, however 2015-16 was a season of disappointment in Madrid.
The 24-year-old fell out of favour following Zinedine Zidane’s arrival in January, losing his starting berth as Madrid went on to win the Champions League, with Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric preferred in a three-man midfield.
But ex-Bulgaria international Stoichkov – who won five La Liga titles with Barca as well as the European Cup – has no sympathy for James.
“He’s an average player,” Stoichkov told Colombian radio station Blu Radio.
“He has a wonderful left foot, but I see in some games when they man mark him, he suffers. It bothers him a lot.
“He needs to change his style of play, his way of training, and more than anything play every game at a high level.
“If not, he’ll just be another player at Real Madrid.”
James made 26 La Liga appearances as Madrid finished second to Barca last season, though just 17 were starts, while he was only named as a starter in three of his five matches in the Champions League.
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