James Rodriguez is still adapting to life in the Bundesliga, but Jupp Heynckes is satisfied with the midfielder’s performances at Bayern Munich.
The Colombia international has started 10 league games since moving to the Allianz Arena from Real Madrid on a two-season loan deal, scoring twice and supplying three assists.
James this week suggested he would be keen to stay at Bayern “for many years”, and Heynckes is willing to be patient to get the best out of the 2014 World Cup’s top goalscorer.
“I have said already several times – a new player needs some time to integrate,” Heynckes told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Cologne. “If you come from abroad many things play a role: the weather, the food, the new team, the other football.
“James plays with us in a position he had not previously played at Real Madrid. There he played as a left or right winger, coming from deep as he is not a [Franck] Ribery, not a [Arjen] Robben, not a sprinter.
“With me he plays as an offensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 and he feels really good. And what could be surprising for many people, he is so strong in running, he has outstanding running statistics and he helps us in the defence. That’s very positive for us.
“James is enjoying his time with us. He always comes to training with a big smile on his face and I think he will become even more important for us in the future.”
Heynckes denied suggestions Bayern could sign a goalkeeper during the January transfer window, with 36-year-old Tom Starke having come out of retirement to aid the champions’ crisis between the posts.
Manuel Neuer is out long-term and an injury suffered by deputy Sven Ulreich in the warm-up for the 1-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt meant academy coach Starke had to step in, while Bayern have strongly denied speculation linking them with a move for Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno.
“Sven was intensively treated, he has some problems with his adductor,” Heynckes said. “He probably could have trained outside even today, but we decided with the doctor and the player to be careful.
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“Sven will be back in training tomorrow [Wednesday] and we should have him back on Saturday [against Stuttgart]. Tom Starke will play tomorrow. When called upon, he is always 100 per cent there and focused.
“I have total confidence in Sven Ulreich. He has developed massively, he got better and better from game to game and he performed outstandingly sometimes. I would suggest Bayern should start talks to extend his contract.
“We haven’t talked for a second about signing a new goalkeeper here. We will not sign a new goalkeeper in January. In my eyes, it’s not necessary.”
Heynckes, whose side are eight points clear at the top of the table, confirmed Mats Hummels should be fit to start against Cologne despite carrying a knock.
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