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Real Madrid

7 reasons why James Rodriguez is important to Real Madrid

The Colombian is having his best time of it in the Zidane era at Madrid and there are various reasons why the midfielder should be seen as a big part of this season.
Real Madrid-Deportivo: LaLiga matchday 20

James Rodríguez and his Real Madrid stats
CURTO DE LA TORRE AFP

James always believed. His shoulders have never dropped and now it is paying dividends as he enjoys his best days in the Zidane era at Real Madrid. With perseverance, talent and strength of character this has been achieved.

"I will fight to stay here forever," said the Colombian after the weekend win over Espanyol.

A goal and three assists in six games (he only started two of those and only once completed 90 minutes) confirm his good start to the season.

Starting in the last two games, due to injuries to Bale and Casemiro, his performances have warranted his inclusion after positively influencing the attacking side of the play from Madrid. Whenever he has come off the bench this season, again he has contributed, having had some involvement in seven of the 13 points that Los Blancos have accumulated this term.

Here are seven endorsements for the Colombian in a white shirt.

1. Proven goalscorer

James has scored 26 times since his arrival in the Spanish capital: 21 in the league, 2 in the Spanish Super Cup, 1 in the Copa del Rey and 2 in the Champions League. In his first season he tallied 17 goals, last year he celebrated eight times and this campaign is just getting going for him.

James puts his team ahead against Espanyol.

2. Giving balance

According to MisterChip, of the 21 league goals scored, 17 were with his left foot, 3 with his head and only one on his right. On Sunday his goal against Espanyol was took his tally to ten from outside the area in his last 12.

3. Keeping his distance

Only Lionel Messi is ahead of James in the league for most goals scored from outside the penalty area since the Colombian arrived at Real Madrid. The Argentine leads the way on 12 but James is just one behind and that is one ahead of teammate Cristiano Ronaldo who has had significantly more attempts. (Source: MisterChip)

4. Just behind the BBC

Bale, Benzema and Cristiano are the top scorers in the 'Zidane era' and get most of the plaudits and attention for this. James, though, is the next best with five goals which is more than others who have had more pitch time such as Isco and Lucas Vasquez. It’s worth noting that the game against Villarreal was James’ first return to the starting XI after four months.

5. James the provider

With his footprints on the equalising goal against Villarreal (it was his corner that gave Ramos the headed chance) James has provided 31 assists in all competitions for Los Blancos. Since his arrival in Spain, there is only one player who exceeds that: Cristiano Ronaldo with 36 assists (data: @OptaJose).

Sergio Ramos mid-air chest bumps James Rodriguez after they combined to equalise against Villarreal.

6. Better than Zidane

In his first two seasons – plus the opening five games of the third - James has recorded 26 goals and 31 assists, which is a better return than that of current manager, and legend of the game, Zinedine Zidane over the same period. The French magician managed 25 goals and 30 assists and actually played 21 games more than the Colombian in that time.

7. Positive start

In the current 2016-2017 season, James has been involved in six games and in four of these has been influential in terms of goals. The single goal was scored in the fourth round of LaLiga fixtures against Espanyol (the first in a 2-0 victory).

The three assists were shared over three encounters. In the fifth game of the season against Villarreal (for 1-1) in the opening Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon (for a 2-1 win) and in the first league game against Real Sociedad (in a 0-3 success).