REAL MADRID

Real Madrid maintain faith in James Rodríguez

Despite some rumour milling, Zinedine Zidane and the LaLiga club have no plans to allow the Colombian to leave in this January window.

The year 2020 will provide James Rodríguez with a fresh opportunity. At Real Madrid there is still a feeling of confidence in what the Colombian can offer the squad, and the belief is that his disappointing return to Spain has been down to bad luck more than anything. They are not contemplating his departure in January.

James hoping for white new year

The 28-year old's contract with Los Blancos expires in 2021 but it had looked in the summer that his time there was coming to a premature end following a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich. Once the uncertain mist had lifted, James saw injuries to first team players as a chance for him to stake his claim under Zidane but he too was then sent to the treatment table, and this cost him significant playing time as others returned. He has been the 21st most used player at Madrid in the first half of the season.

There may not be the same expectation from the club, or the fans for that matter, that the Colombian is going to light up LaLiga as there was when he first arrived, but positive noises about his involvement have been heard since the summer. Once his stay was guaranteed, he took his place in the starting line-up in four games in five after missing out on the season's opener. And his performances were met with praise from his coach, who stated that he was happy he was in his squad.

James in his Madrid groove.

"He is getting better but we will have to wait and see," Zidane said recently as James continued his recovery process. "We want him to be back one hundred per cent and he is getting there."

Madrid season mixed for James

James got some extra points from the manager and club when he chose not to disappear on international duty in October in his attempt to get back to full fitness. This was seen as him being fully committed to the cause and earned him a starting place against Mallorca. That game did not go well, however, neither for Madrid nor for an unconvincing James, who was then moved to the bench for the following game against Galatasaray in the Champions League. This appears to have been a pivotal period, and one that bothered him a lot, aware that young Brazilian Rodrygo was passing him in the pecking order.

Since the end of October, James hasn't pulled on the famous white shirt, or any of the alternative colours used by Madrid. A paternity trip to his native country and another injury impacted on his availability. There is now hope, though, that he can draw a line under his difficult resettling in period in the Spanish capital and deliver once again for his club as they chase a 34th Liga title and further dominance in Europe. On 19 December he was back training with his teammates with a target of getting some action on 4 January against Getafe.

In the Real Madrid offices they maintain their faith in the player. It remains to be seen if that extends to the dugout.