Real Madrid’s for­got­ten man James gets an­other chance

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Real Madrid’s James Ro­driguez, the golden boy of Colom­bian foot­ball, has strug­gled to es­tab­lish him­self at Real Madrid since he burst into the lime­light at the 2014 World Cup.

How­ever, with Toni Kroos, Al­varo Mo­rata and Gareth Bale all out un­til next year with in­juries, the door has opened for the 25year-old winger to try to win over coach Zine­dine Zi­dane.

James came un­der scru­tiny on Satur­day af­ter fail­ing to muster a shot on goal dur­ing his third Liga start of the sea­son in the 2-1 win at Sport­ing Gi­jon but Zi­dane de­fended him. “I don’t con­sider him to be dis­in­ter­ested,” the French­man said. “He played well, as did the oth­ers. He may lack a bit of rhythm, but I’m happy that he got some play­ing time”. James will be hop­ing to get more min­utes un­der his belt at Barcelona in Satur­day’s first ‘El Cla­sico’ of the sea­son af­ter his ca­reer in Madrid started brightly but then faded.

Hav­ing won the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s top scorer with six goals, the winger se­cured a dream 80 mil­lion eu­ros ($84.71 mil­lion) move to the Span­ish gi­ants from Monaco.

He shone in his first sea­son un­der Carlo Ancelotti, start­ing 46 games in all com­pe­ti­tions, with 17 goals and the same num­ber of as­sists, as he be­gan to re­pay some of his trans­fer fee.

Since the Ital­ian’s de­par­ture, how­ever, James has slumped from first choice at the Bern­abeu to for­got­ten man. In 2015-16 un­der Rafael Ben­itez and his re­place­ment Zi­dane, James made 21 starts in all com­pe­ti­tions, with eight goals and 10 as­sists, although a thigh in­jury lim­ited his op­por­tu­ni­ties. He was the sub­ject of trans­fer spec­u­la­tion in the close sea­son but, un­der con­tract un­til June 2020, he stayed put.

James’ ex­pe­ri­ence at Real is the op­po­site to his time at Monaco, where he en­dured a slow start in the 2013-14 cam­paign hav­ing join­ing the French side af­ter three sea­sons at Porto.

He even­tu­ally scored nine goals with 12 as­sists to help Monaco fin­ish run­ners-up to Paris Saint-Ger­main in Ligue 1.

At Real, the fierce com­pe­ti­tion did not seem to af­fect him in his first sea­son but Zi­dane has Casemiro, Lu­cas Vazquez and Marco Asen­sio ahead of him in the peck­ing or­der. He is only 20th in min­utes played for Real this sea­son with 570, hav­ing made 12 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions, scor­ing once with six as­sists. Satur­day would be a good time to shine. — Reuters

James Ro­driguez

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