Colombia’s James Rodriguez is set to remain on the bench ahead of the clash between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday, according to Spanish media.
The Colombian playmaker played a vital role in back to back wins for his country against Bolivia and Ecuador in World Cup qualifying in the last week, but looks certain to be omitted from Madrid’s starting XI for the fourth consecutive game.
Despite his exceptional performances in a Colombian shirt recently, he will not be selected in the XI for fear of ‘unbalancing the team’ according to coverage in Spanish newspaper El Pais.
A comment from James in the aftermath of his country’s win over Ecuador during which he said “it is so much easier when you are actually playing and feel the support of everyone around you,” was deemed to be a jibe at Real manager Zinedine Zidane with whom he is out of favor.
However, El Pais reported that the continued omission of the South American midfielder from the starting lineup is part of Madrid’s struggle to field a balanced team.
“James Rodriguez is in great shape. If you do not fit into the plans of Zidane to play in the classic next Saturday, it is not for lack of level. Two decisive actions lead his team to victory against Bolivia (2-3) on Saturday and Ecuador on Tuesday (3-1), reported El Pais.
James was purchased by Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2014 from Monaco for €80 million and enjoyed an excellent debut season scoring 17 goals and providing 18 assists in all competitions.
However in the 2015-16 season, the 24-year-old struggled to hit the same heights.
A frayed relationship with previous Real boss Rafa Benitez also contributed to his dip in form and it now appears that his relationship with new manager Zinedine Zidane has been fractured also.
Another news outlet in Spain, “ABC”, carried a headline on Thursday stating “Madrid gets tried of James” in which the Colombian was criticized for “returning to his old tricks attacking Zidane as he did with Benitez.”
Following his masterful displays for the Colombian national team, exclusion from Saturday’s line-up may add weight to media rumors that his troubles lie in his relationship with the Madrid coaching staff.
These rumors have suggested that an end of season exit is likely with Manchester United touted as possible suitors for the Colombian.
He has netted five times and provided six assists in 19 league appearances, some way short of the 13 of each he garnered last season, his debut term at the club.