After a major dip in form over the last two seasons at Spanish giants Real Madrid, Colombia’s James Rodriguez is undergoing something of a renaissance in Germany with Bayern Munich.
The performances of the Cucuta-born star for Bayern this season have received rave reviews with veteran coach Jupp Heynckes describing the 26-year-old as a “Godsend.”
“In his current form and how he has integrated himself, James is a God-send for us,” said the Bayern coach when speaking of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner last week.
As Colombia’s national side continues its preparations for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, news of the revitalization of James will be music to the ears of coach Jose Pekerman.
James struggled initially after making a two-year loan move to the German giants last summer under coach Carlo Ancelotti but following the dismissal of the Italian and the arrival of Heynckes, the Colombian has starred for the Bavarian outfit.
Heynches, who is a fluent Spanish speaker praised the attitude of the revitalized former Envigado star who has registered four goals and six assists in 13 league starts this season.
“It’s not easy, in another country with a different culture, a different mentality and he is doing very well, playing at a very high level, but he can do it better,” said Heynches.
“It was well known that James was no longer satisfied in Madrid. He didn’t get the time that such a player deserves, and then it is logical to get the player in. James is an instant hit,” he added.
“How he acts and integrates, how he laughs again and is relaxed… He has arrived and is happy in Munich,” said the coach who is third highest goalscorer in the history of the German Bundesliga.
The transformation of the attacking midfielder under Heynckes has been remarkable, with the Colombian captain acknowledging the importance of their close relationship.
“Heynckes is a coach who talks to the players a lot, and that’s very positive for me,” said James to reporters recently.
“You get the feeling that he is very close to us,” he added.
After top scoring at the 2014 World Cup and moving to Spanish giants Real Madrid from Monaco for €80 million, the Colombian initially impressed under then-coach Ancelotti.
In his debut season, the attacker racked up 17 goals and 18 assists in all competitions but subsequently fell out of favor with former coach Rafa Benitez and later with current boss Zidane.
His return to form with Bayern Munich, who lead the German Bundesliga by 18 points comes at a crucial time in a World Cup year as he shows some of the form that saw him star at Brazil 2014.
The return to form of James has been accompanied by widespread speculation about the future of the Colombian star who is still officially a Real Madrid player.
The current European champions have struggled domestically this season with manager Zinedine Zidane conceding that his job is on the line when his side take on PSG in a Champions League quarter-final this week.
A change of management could open the door for James to return to the Bernabeu where he made a total of 111 appearances, scoring 36 goals and providing 41 assists.
Despite limited involvement, James left Madrid having won two Champions League medals, one Spanish league title and two FIFA World Club Cups and should he decide not to make his Bayern move a permanent one, a return to “Los Galacticos” could be an option.
British media recently claimed that the Colombian may be interested in a move to the English Premier League with the Jurgen Klopp-managed Liverpool rumored to be interested in securing his services.
Regardless of the transfer speculation, the Rodriguez renaissance can only bode well of the Colombian national team as the World Cup beckons.
Colombian fans will be hoping that the Bayern man can make a similar impact to that of the last World Cup.
Colombia will face Japan in its opening game on June 19 before facing Poland on June 24 with the final group game against Senegal scheduled four days later.