He was one of the stars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and is one of Real Madrid's most expensive signings ever, but James Rodriguez's career has hit a new low, and even a former Bafana Bafana boss is worried about him.
The 28-year-old was supposed to be one of the new "Galacticos" at the Santiago Bernabeu when he arrived in Madrid in July 2014, but his stint has not gone as well as he and the club will have hoped.
While Rodriguez featured regularly in his first two seasons at Real, helping the club win multiple trophies, including two UEFA Champions League titles, he was loaned out to Bayern Munich in 2017.
However, the German giants decided not to activate their purchase option on the playmaker, and he returned to Madrid in June 2019 following the two-year loan spell in Munich.
Many thought Zinedine Zidane would be able to get the best out of the Colombian upon his return to Spain, but he has made only 13 appearances across all competitions in the 2019/20 campaign so far, and just three of those were for 90 minutes or more.
His last start in a LaLiga game came in October last year, when Real lost 1-0 to Mallorca, and he has only featured five times – thrice in the Copa del Rey, for 13 minutes in the Supercopa de Espana, and for 11 minutes in the UEFA Champions League – since.
The left-footer's season was disrupted by a ligament injury, which kept him sidelined in November and December, but he has only been given chances in domestic cup competitions since returning to fitness.
In Real's past eight LaLiga games, he was an unused substitute three times, and was not in the squad at all on three occasions too, including the latest El Clasico last Sunday, while he missed the other two matches with a small injury issue.
Rodriguez's situation at the Santiago Bernabeu has led to Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz paying him a visit in Madrid to discuss his lack of playing time. According to Marca, the former Bafana boss indicated that he cannot guarantee that the ex-Monaco star will be a starter for his country in the forthcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
With his Los Blancos contract set to expire in June 2021 only, it remains doubtful as to whether or not he can regain a place in Zidane's starting XI.
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