Real Madrid: Will this be James Rodriguez’s season to return to stardom?

James Rodriguez is back with Real Madrid, but like his first stint, that doesn’t necessarily mean a starting role, but he is hoping for the best.

After a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, James Rodriguez is back with Real Madrid. The Colombian joined Madrid after a superb showing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but his time in the Capital had been nothing shy of a rocky road.

Under Carlo Ancelotti Rodriguez excelled, his time under Rafael Benitez was a blur, and he struggled the most for minutes under Zinedine Zidane. As a player he did phenomenally, his contributions were not overlooked, but he often found himself competing for minutes with Isco.

In 2017, Zidane deemed James to be excess baggage and shipped him off to Bayern Munich. He thrived in the Bundesliga, but again struggled for consistent minutes. Bayern had the option to buy at the end of the loan deal but did not show interest.

This past transfer window, Rodriguez was linked with teams all over Europe. As we know, that didn’t happen. And that’s to Real Madrid’s benefit.

In an interview with TV program El Chiringuito earlier this week, James expressed his desire to excel this season.

“I really hope that this can be my season with Real Madrid,” James said in the interview as the international break comes to a close and Madrid prepare for the next league fixture.

Rodriguez was unable to join Colombia over the break due to a calf injury he picked up early in the season. The attacker stayed back to recover and train with some of his teammates looking to break into the starting XI.

It’s still a little unclear if Zidane sees James ahead of Isco in the pecking order, but this season is make-or-break for the Colombian.

And he knows it.

Realistically the odds are in James’ favour for this 2019-2020 campaign. Dani Ceballos has been sent to Arsenal on loan while Marco Asensio is out for what is likely to be the remained of the season due to injury.

Zidane is looking for a spark in this team after a miserable campaign last season, and James could be the man. He brings a unique style of play that his teammates don’t encompass. In his final season with Madrid before heading to Munich, he played an average of 3.4 key passes per 90 – more than anyone else in the squad.

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Alongside Eden Hazard, he has shown some great chemistry in training this past week as the two get up to match fitness. Their connection will be another storyline and key to success for James in this critical campaign.