When James Rodriguez was signed by Real Madrid in 2014 right after the World Cup that year, fans were excited, despite the fact that there was really no place for the Colombian in the team at the time.
Isco and Gareth Bale were already in the team and signing Rodriguez felt more like a statement from Florentino Perez than a stroke of genius. Three years later, the Colombian was let go on a two-year loan deal to Bayern Munich with an option to buy for the Bavarians.
That was supposed to be the last time James played for Madrid. Two years later, however, he is back at Madrid – Bayern didn’t exercise the option – and he might just have to play a crucial role this season.
Zinedine Zidane is not really a huge admirer of the player as he was the one who sanctioned his sale but even he can’t deny that Rodriguez played a really crucial role in Madrid’s double-winning campaign in 2016-17.
Although the former Monaco star wasn’t a first-choice player, his performances from the bench allowed the Galacticos to win two titles that season. There were countless moments where he – and a certain Alvaro Morata – came to the rescue of the Bernabeu outfit.
James Rodriguez is back at Real Madrid and he is ending careers for fun! This skill is absolutely un real! pic.twitter.com/Z3Kdq3D2AN— Football HQ (@FootbaII_HQ) August 9, 2019
Even better than his debut season with Madrid, where he finished with 13 goals and 13 assists, from 2290 minutes of play.
Despite such a great season with limited playing time, Zidane opted to keep Isco instead of James and now, two years later, the Colombian comes with 14 league assists and goals each with Bayern, while Isco managed only 10 goals and nine assists in the league having played 199 minutes more than the Colombian.
From a statistical point of view, James Rodriguez is far better than Isco.
No, there is no ‘however’ here as Rodriguez has been better than Isco in every aspect of the game. The former Porto man is better at making decisions than the Spaniard, is much quicker on the ball and certainly more of a threat in the opposition area than the former Malaga star.
When one thinks about it, Isco still being at Madrid, despite being average for two years and not showing any desire to improve, is a shock in itself.
Tactically, Zidane needs James now more than ever. The right flank of Madrid looks banal with Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale. With James operating on the right as an inside playmaker, it will allow Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr./Eden Hazard more opportunities to score.
Isco has been tried on the right a few times but he has time and again shown that he doesn’t belong there. Now that James is going to stay, Zidane will almost certainly use him on the right and that would be beneficial for Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane: “James Rodriguez is in form and I’m happy to have him as part of this team.” pic.twitter.com/Fv9gQMJCcp— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) August 16, 2019
If not on the right, James can also play on the left side of a midfield trivote – as he showed under Carlo Ancelotti. And given that Real might be a little light on bodies in midfield this season with the departure of Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente, Zidane could play the Colombian there.
From a mental point of view, this is the last chance for James Rodriguez to prove himself at Real Madrid. Even though he did really well in his last season at the club before going to Germany on loan, he can really cement his spot at the Santiago Bernabeu if he performs well this season.
If reports are to be believed, the Colombian really wanted to stay at the club, and now that he is going to be given a chance, he will be raring to go and prove to Zinedine Zidane that he has what it takes to succeed at the greatest club of the 20th century.