James Rodriguez hopes for a return to Real Madrid but a change in his role at Bayern and the return of Zinedine Zidane has complicated the situation.
The future of James Rodriguez is still very much up in the air. The Colombian international, on loan at Bayern Munich since summer 2017, is banking on a return to Real Madrid at the end of the season, save the German club exercising its option to purchase him for 42 million euros, which had been looking increasingly unlikely. But his last few weeks at Bayern and the return of Zinedine Zidane has complicated his hopes of a return to the Spanish capital.
After enjoying a decent first campaign in the Bundesliga, James had struggled to get into new manager Niko Kovac’s starting line-up this season. But recently the Croatian coach has favoured the Colombian as a pure central midfielder in a new-look 4-2-3-1 formation, starting him in the last eight Bundesliga games (in which he provided four goals and three assists), as well as in Bayern’s final two fixtures against Liverpool in the last-16 of the Champions League.
Bayern have changed their tune on James
Much has been written regarding the prospect of the 27-year-old remaining at Bayern. Last season German daily Bild claimed that the club had made up their mind to buy him. But because of the little confidence that Kovac had shown in him those plans had seemingly changed.
"The option is valid until mid-May. Everything depends on what Kovac says, whether he wants him or not. But I'm not going to spend 42 million euros on someone who doesn’t play. If the coach tells me that he needs him and plans to make use of him, then we will sign him," said Bayern president Uli Hoeness last February.
From those comments it seemed clear that James' future would not be in Munich. But with his return to form and prominence under Kovac, Bayern have markedly changed their tune.
"I'm sure James will play with us next season. I am sure that Kovac appreciates his qualities and that there is no problem between the two,” said the club’s managing director, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, just two days ago.
As he waits for the German club to decide, James hopes of a return to the Bernabéu. As a Colombian and native Spanish speaker, he naturally feels more adapted in Madrid than in Munich, and often visits the Spanish capital when he has time off. But Zidane’s return has forced him to rethink things. The relationship between the Colombian and the French coach is not the best. But regardless of whether or not Madrid would see him as part of their plans for next season, which seems unlikely under Zindane, Bayern will have the final say on the matter.