Real Madrid: For the love of James Rodriguez

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 14: James Rodriguez of Real Madrid is seen during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain on May 14, 2017. (Photo by Guillermo Martinez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 14: James Rodriguez of Real Madrid is seen during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain on May 14, 2017. (Photo by Guillermo Martinez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

Several rumors and newspapers have indicated that James Rodriguez’s time with Real Madrid might indeed be nearing its end. Let’s take a look at James’ time in the White Jersey.

Where it all started

To score such a beauty means you’re either lucky or talented. However, to score it and also end up as the World Cup top goalscorer, you’re definitely, very, very talented. And Florentino Perez took note of the young Colombian’s amazing ability.

The next big thing

As is custom in football, whenever a player shines brightly, he is automatically linked to Real Madrid. As it turns out, Perez’s interest in James was real.

On 22 July 2014, Real Madrid signed the Colombian from AS Monaco on a six-year contract for a reported fee of €80 million.

To be honest, I was critical of James’s signing at first. Madrid already had Isco, and Toni Kroos had just arrived at the club. Both of these players occupy the same position as James. Also, his price seemed ridiculous for a 23-year-old.

Nonetheless, the Colombian proved to be a true sensation. As his first season in Spain progressed, I unconsciously became a James Rodriguez fanboy.

He was named the Best Midfielder of the 2014/15 Liga BBVA season.

Ancelotti’s departure and the downfall

After the exit of Carlo Ancelotti, and signing of Rafa Benitez, James lost his place in the starting 11. Benitez was unable to form a system with proper defensive stability with James in it.  Benitez preferred Isco over James because of his work rate, and Gareth Bale because, well, he is Gareth Bale.

Benitez’s tenure didn’t last more than six months. In January, Zinedine Zidane was announced as Real Madrid’s new coach. Zidane opted for Casemiro to create defensive support in the midfield.

The Frenchman also decided that Casemiro’s best partners in the midfield are Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Sure, both are magicians, yet there was that part of me that still wanted James to play. He has a highly attacking mindset compared to Kroos and Modric. Not to mention his ability to change the game within seconds with one of his golazos.

Is there really no place for James?

Personally, I cannot give in to the idea that a player like James Rodriguez cannot have a bigger role in Madrid. The Columbian has proved time and time again that he is a true game changer. He may not be on the level of Cristiano Ronaldo (at least for now) but he is a great addition to any team in the world, including Real Madrid.

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Furthermore, Los Blancos depend, for the majority of the time, on either direct play or counter attacks. Both are systems that James thrives in. His passing and shooting ability, along with his positional awareness make him (again in my humble opinion) arguably the best #10 in the world barring Bale and Messi.

I am not saying that James should have a permanent spot in the starting 11, however. The current starting 11 already contains stars who are equally at the same level as James.

I am discussing him being an occasional starter or a first go-to substitute in big matches, like matches against Bayern Munich, Atleti, Barca, even when Real’s “main” starting 11 are fully fit. Surely James would be much happier if he started some of those matches.

Can James be an indisputable starter?

Practically, the answer is a big fat no. The Colombian’s departure is very close and Zizou doesn’t seem like he’ll be making a massive tactical change. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel excited by the idea of possible changes.

4-3-1-2 and its variants

This lineup would make the best out of almost each player (the only exception is actually Bale). The diamond seems like the only possible conclusion in order to keep defensive stability in the middle from Casemiro, and fielding James in his preferred spot. This all while still keeping both Kroos and Modric on the pitch.

Two banks of four, two players upfront: the classic 4-4-2 has always been deemed as the simplest and yet most efficient formation to maintain defensive solidity while still being able to shift into the attack quickly. The midfield is composed of four players who track back very well. So being overloaded when defending shouldn’t be a problem.

As for the offense, I’ve decided not to include any shape since the possibilities are almost endless. It could turn to a 4-3-3 with James as a false nine. If James and Ronaldo interchange places, it could turn into the traditional 4-3-3. Both full backs could advance while Kroos and Modric cover them. With Ronaldo and Bale getting into the box. This would turn into a cross-fest.

But then again, those are only my thoughts. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like they would ever come true.

Golazo Exclusive

It will be some time before football fans witness a player other than James who scores most goals a la GOLAZO style.

Feast your eyes upon this beauty:

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