The case of James Rodriguez is one of many such players who make it up to the big stages but needed to be composed more to carry on with the momentum and become just a part of the dust of the past. Today, we’ll uncover the mysterious disappearance of one of the most talented players.
Child Prodigy with Football in His Blood
James Rodriguez, born in 1991 in Cúcuta, Colombia, was a child prodigy. He was the youngest player to start a professional match in Colombia at 14 with Envigado. He later moved to the Argentinian Primera Division with Banfield, where he became the youngest foreign player to score in the league at only 17 years old. Despite his early success on the pitch, his personal life was challenging, as his father left him and his family at a young age, and his mother and stepfather raised him.
Early Signs of a Promising Career
James was always gifted and had a passion for football from a young age. He preferred advanced roles and excelled as an attacking midfielder, operating just behind the striker. His striking and finishing ability set him apart, making him one of the best pure strikers of the ball in his prime. He had great vision and a stellar attacking mind and was known for his magic touch in the box and outside of it.
A Classic No. 10 in a Modern Game
James Rodriguez was often compared to classic, traditional No. 10s such as Juan Riquelme, Francesco Totti, Michel Platini, Alessandro Del Piero, and Michael Laudrup, who were known for their ability to link the play, score when required, and not do a lot of defending. In the past, players like James could thrive in the game without the need to defend, as the players around them could do the dirty work. However, the modern game has become more intense, and the demand for industry across the pitch has increased, leading to changes in the role of a traditional No. 10.
Rising to Stardom in Europe
After his impressive performances in Argentina, James moved to Europe, joining Porto in 2010 at 19 for €5.1 million. He quickly proved himself, settling in with the team and having a standout season in 2011-2012 with 14 goals and 12 assists. He won the Primeira Liga breakthrough player of the Year, three Primeira Liga titles, and the Europa League with Porto. His performances caught the attention of Monaco, who spent €45 million to bring him to France in 2013.
Joining Monaco and a Challenging Period
James joined Monaco during a significant period for the club, as they had just been relegated to Ligue 2 in 2011. Despite this setback, he joined forces with his fellow Colombian Radamel Falcao, and the expectations were high. However, his time at Monaco was challenging, as he faced injuries and inconsistent form. He struggled to replicate his previous performances, and ups and downs marred his time at Monaco.
Move to Real Madrid and a New Beginning
In 2014, James made a high-profile move to Real Madrid for €80 million, becoming the most expensive Colombian player. He had a promising start at the Spanish giants, scoring goals and providing assists in his debut season. He won the UEFA Champions League in his first season with Real Madrid and was considered one of the rising stars in European football.
Inconsistent Performances and a Decline
However, James’ performances could have been more consistent despite his initial success at Real Madrid. He struggled with injuries and found securing a consistent spot in the starting lineup challenging. He was loaned to Bayern Munich in 2017, where he had a decent season but could not consistently replicate his best form. Although Bayern management was willing for him to stay, James himself was not keen to stay. He returned to Real Madrid in 2018. But he was never in Real Madrid’s plans. This caused him to move to Everton, as Carlos Ancelotti was there. But who knew that this move would be the last nail in the coffin for him.
Criticism against James
A former team doctor at Real Madrid said interesting words for James:
“The boy isn’t focused. Instead of working for the new season, he went to fix his eyebrows and his hair while he should have been working. Big teams like Madrid expect professionalism. Someone who will be prepared, but this boy has a bad head.
A player who spends months away from the pitch and goes from club to club, how does he stay there? If he prepared properly he wouldn’t suffer any of this. I already predicted that it would go wrong because he doesn’t work.”
Recently, his Olympiacos contract has been terminated. He joined the Greek club at the start of the 2023 season but hasn’t played due to injury, since February. A tweet from Olympiacos FC stated: “Olympiacos FC and James Rodriguez have decided to terminate their cooperation. James will always be part of our club and a member of the “red-and-white” family. We want to thank him for his service and we wish him every success in the future.”