‘Back into shape’ – Real Madrid need to reduce valuation of outcast

Things could have been very different for James Rodriguez today. He could have easily been at Napoli, helping the side beat Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League where Barcelona are clear favourites with most bookmakers to win the tie when it gets played. But due to unforeseen circumstances, he had to stay at Real Madrid until someone came in for him. He’s still there, not playing enough and with his future still uncertain. Even with the analysts who follow soccer betting in USA tipping Madrid to win La Liga (eventually), it will be without James featuring too often.

The strange thing is- it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t because of him that the move to Napoli didn’t happen. The partenopei couldn’t match Real’s asking price and then went ahead and signed Hirving Lozano instead. While Lozano is still struggling himself, but James could’ve made a different sort of impact. Which is why Real need to lower their demands for the Colombian.

A lot of it is because of his usage- or the lack of it. This season, James has made only seven appearances in La Liga. Only four have been starts, with three coming from the bench. He has a tally of one goal and one assist, playing only twice in the UEFA Champions League.

He has missed as many as 14 games this season already, constantly suffering from muscle and tissue injuries. That was the case for him in the previous season at Bayern Munich in his loan stint. He missed 16 games due to injury, missing 11 in the 2017-18 season of the Bundesliga.

There is no doubt about his talent though. At Bayern in the previous season, he contributed to 13 goals in just 28 appearances in all competitions. The 2017-18 season had seen the former Monaco man contribute to 22 goals in 39 appearances for the Bavarians. Those numbers can be higher, but constant niggles during phases have never helped James.

He had a tally of 2.6 key passes per game last season, thriving on that ability of his. It was at 2.8 in the 2017-18 campaign, showing that that strength is still very much there in his armoury. But over the years, his career has been spanned by fitness issues and injuries that make sure that his progress is never consistent.

He is currently 28 and not getting any younger by age. His last impressive campaign came in the 2014-15 season, when he scored 13 and assisted 13 under Zinedine Zidane.  His key passes tally stood at 2.7 in that season and the injuries hadn’t caught up with his body. No one really knows how his form would have gone on, if the problems hadn’t cropped up.

Early on in the current season, Zidane had praised James but also talked about his physical problems. He said: “James has shown his quality since the start of the season. In each game he has played he has shown real quality and I am pleased with him.

“Physically, he is still coming back into shape and he was dead after today (Levante). But I am so happy for him.”

But due to that, his output has reduced.  He has become less consistent and less available to teams that he plays for. He wasn’t fit to face England in the FIFA World Cup of 2018 for Colombia. Him playing could’ve meant a win for Colombia but the same issues came up once again.

Everything points to how things are going down for him. Real did buy him for big money and they obviously need to avoid a big loss. James isn’t a modern-day number ten now. The fast-paced nature of the game sees versatile number tens thrive. Playmakers who are quick and can play in wide positions or deeper are more prominent than those who are like Mesut Ozil or James himself.

Real may record losses in the deal or sale. But the longer they keep him, the higher the risk of a bigger loss – and the online bookies are also pricing him high. High to be at Madrid next season.