Will James Rodriguez Stay At Real Madrid?
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Rumors have circulated the entire summer about James Rodriguez and his possible future away from the Spanish capital. To date, both Zinedine Zidane and Rodriguez's agent, Jorge Mendes (and even the player himself), have said that James Rodriguez will be staying at Real Madrid. However, that has never stopped any transfer deals from happening, especially last-minute ones. At this point, our opinion is that he will stay at Real Madrid for three reasons:
Reason 1: no suitable offer. James surely has a say in his own future, but if he’s still at Madrid it’s also because no suitable offer has reached the desk of Florentino Perez. In spite of all the criticism he receives, trust us when we tell you Florentino is the person you want representing you at the negotiation table. He’s not going to sell a player of James’ talent for a low price.
The only way James leaves the club is if an offer comes in matching the €80 million that Real Madrid paid for him in 2014. It seems very unlikely that an offer of that amount will reach the Santiago Bernabeu before the window closes on August 31st.
Reason 2: he’s regaining his form. It has only been two league games and he’s come off the bench in both of them, but James played very well and looks to be regaining his old form. Madrid had better ball movement and creativity when he came on, he fought for every loose ball, and helped out in defense. Those are things that will not go unnoticed and Zidane will eventually reward him with a starting position if he keeps it up.
Reason 3: James is still a world class player. Despite the bad season in 2015/2016 and all the criticism he’s received, James Rodriguez is still one of the most talented players in the world. On skill alone, he’s as talented as players like Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero.
This is still the same player that led Colombia to quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2014 and was the leading goal-scorer. Not to mention he’s only 25 years old and has only had one bad season. James is not damaged goods and can easily become the old player he was during his first season.
Regardless, if James Rodriguez and Real Madrid really want to succeed, both parties are going to need to do their parts.
James must stay focused: We don’t know what the reasons were for his poor performances last year, but he’ll need to learn from those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again this season. He’s started the year in form and his performances may lead to his name being on the next starting 11 after the international break, but now he has to be determined and stay the course.
Most importantly, he has to make sure no professional or personal problems get to his head. If he arrives on time to practice, trains hard everyday and listens to the manager, he’ll play. If he doesn’t, he will not.
Zidane must find a position for him: Even though James had a good first season, he’s never really played in his natural position during his time with Real Madrid. His best position is the attacking midfielder role just behind the strikers, which is where a traditional number 10 usually plays.
There is just one problem, Real Madrid hasn’t played with a number 10 since the Jose Mourinho era. Under the last three managers (Ancelotti, Benitez and Zidane), the most frequently used formations have been the 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. Neither systems plays with an attacking midfielder.
In that regard, the second-best option would be to play him as a winger, but that presents an even bigger problem since you have arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo on one side and a top 5 player in Gareth Bale on the other. James’ best bet would be to continue playing in midfield, where he has done a very good job.
His ball control and vision are excellent, makes quick passes, and is a threat when it comes to counterattacks. However, he’s an even bigger threat when he plays closer to goal. It’ll be up to Zidane to decide where he plays and who he takes off because even midfield requires sacrificing Modric or Kroos. Hopefully he’ll find the right positions that benefits both James and the team.