After setting the World Cup alight and securing a dream move to Real Madrid in 2014 James Rodriguez stands at a career crossroad. His £63 million move to the Spanish capital made him the most expensive Colombian footballer at the time; with a lot expected of the World Cup’s golden boot winner.
17 goals and 15 assists in all competitions in his first year showed a promise of things to come. However, Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal at the end of his first season prompted reduced playing time for James in subsequent seasons. A two-year loan to Bayern Munich was arranged in July 2017 and the Colombian produced eight goals and 13 assists in 39 appearances.
The initial struggles seemed behind him by his second year, until Niko Kovač’s rotation policy hindered the playmaker once again. Bayern opted to pull the plug on making the deal permanent and he’s back at Madrid with a year left of his contract.
In search of a team needing his talents, James has been linked to several top European clubs over the summer. A reunion with Ancelotti at Napoli seemed likely until the Italians failed to agree terms with Madrid; subsequently, Real reportedly included James in a stunning bid for Neymar.
Rivals Atlético Madrid have offered a shock escape route- although not out of the city- in what is a no-brainer. For all of Atleti’s smart summer acquisitions, adding a player of James’ quality would improve their squad immensely.
Despite a lack of trust and playing time last season; 11 goal involvements- the lowest in his senior career- in 28 games is impressive and more than worth a risk. James is also a proven La Liga performer with 28 goals and 27 assists in 77 league appearances for Madrid. At 28, he is at a ripe age and Diego Simeone can harness his hunger to get back on track.
James could well improve the squad’s 1.4 goals per league game ratio of last season with his creativity and eye for goal. The Colombian would also increase the quality of their passes which stood at 80.6% accuracy; his 2.6 chances created and 1.6 crosses per game already betters Antoine Griezmann (who has now left the club) and Koke in each department.
With it evident that James Rodriguez would easily improve the quality of Atlético’s attacks, Simeone needs to man-manage his fellow South American. Following a summer of change at Wanda Metropolitano James can be the final piece in supplying João Félix and Alvaro Morata
He said he’ll go to Real Madrid with his eyes closed in 2014; perhaps it’s time to do same across the city in 2019