Colombia’s football personalities have come out in support of James Rodriguez after the playmaker starred for his country again, despite his current difficulties at Real Madrid.
After a first strong season in Spain, James has endured a torrid second campaign with Real Madrid; firstly failing to impress Rafa Benitez whilst he was in charge of the club, then subsequently falling out of favour with new coach Zinedine Zidane.
His domestic woes have been compounded by accusations of a lack of professionalism off the pitch and his overall fitness.
However after inspiring Colombia to a dramatic 3-2 against Bolivia – in which he scored and created goals – legendary former striker Faustino Asprilla came out in support of the Number 10, claiming his club side don’t give him the support he deserves:
James doesn’t try harder for Colombia than Real Madrid, but here in Colombia he is given the true importance that a player of his character needs to perform.
He is a very young boy with an awful lot of talent but James hasn’t been given the support he needs by his club. When he had that support from [Carlo] Ancelotti he showed his true value.
This season he hasn’t been able to prove anything because they haven’t given him the special treatment every player needs from their club.
Asprilla also believes Madrid’s former coach Benitez has an overall problem with Colombian players, telling Marca:
I sincerely believe that Benítez must have something against Colombians, because it’s the only way to explain his attitude towards my compatriots. James had just had an exceptional campaign in his first year with the club, then this man turns up and puts him on the bench.
The outspoken former striker wasn’t the only Colombian to question Real Madrid’s use of the talented playmaker. After James starred again in the country’s 3-1 win against the previously unbeaten Ecuador during a tough round of South American World Cup qualifiers, ex-Colombia coach Pacho Maturana insists there is no place for him at the Spanish giants.
Speaking to El Primer Palo radio show, Maturana’s following comments were picked up by Spanish newspaper AS:
James is between two stages: Colombia and Spain. His national team is based almost entirely around him, something which isn’t the case when he plays for Real Madrid.
At this moment, Madrid have their so-called ‘BBC’ front line, which is untouchable, and that puts James in a very complicated position. It’s not that Madrid don’t want him, but he doesn’t have a niche in the current setup – there’s no place for him.
Maturana went on to suggest the Real Madrid Number 10 has reached his comfort zone too quickly, and should move on to regain his fighting spirit:
He should take a look back at his career, because he has always been a fighter and now he’s reached the ceiling at world football level, he’s become too comfortable.
He needs to leave that comfort zone because he’s forgotten how to fight. The lad’s got talent, but Madrid cannot have a player who only appears for 15 minutes in every game.
For his part, James also risked the wrath of his club side after the Ecuador win by insisting:
If things are going well for Colombia, it’s because I am playing. When you have everyone’s support, you notice.