Chest catch, smooth turn and unstoppable shot that sends the ball flying against the underside of the crossbar and into the goal. This is how James Rodríguez made himself immortal in the summer of 2014. The World Cup in Brazil was THE notable tournament for the Colombian, who became a shooting star as a top scorer. Real Madrid immediately fell in love with the then 23-year-old and paid Monaco a whopping €80 million.
Everything seemed ready for a very good career. Everyone was sure: he was a superstar to come! Less than ten years later, the reality is quite different. The 32-year-old is reportedly leaving São Paulo FC after just a few months, reportedly due to weight issues. Its previous stations were Olympiacos Piraeus and Al-Rayyan. There is now a risk of no longer being affiliated. How could this happen?
The path to a global career begins to crack
After a solid first season at Real with 13 goals and 13 assists in 29 La Liga games, James Rodríguez’s previously impeccable career began to take its first steps. Over the next two years, he played fewer and fewer matches. In 2016/17, there were only five games over the full 90 minutes. The reason was recurring injuries and lack of fitness.
In the spring of 2020, his club even hired a sports coach to get James back into shape, as his national coach Carlos Queiroz told ‘EFE’: « This coach is doing extra shifts with James. »
From the outside, he was repeatedly accused of lacking resilience, not having enough speed and not putting enough effort against the ball. In the meantime, he tried for a fresh start at FC Bayern for two years, where he faced similar criticism.
In the outfit of the German record champion, James had such solid numbers as at the start in Madrid (seven goals, eleven assists in the 17/18 season), but the left (Site notre bureau spécialisé) did not exceed the role rotation player. Also because FCB played most of the time without the classic ten. « You shouldn’t sign a player for 42 million euros with a corresponding salary if you can’t offer him a permanent position, » Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained about the departure from ‘Sport 1’.
Reports of indiscipline are increasing
Privately, James never really settled in Germany. In a Daniel Habif podcast, he later called the Germans « cold people », even though Bayern had « treated him fantastically ». But he also said something that suggests the accusations of incapacity to suffer weren’t entirely unreasonable: « There were days when I went to work at 9 a.m. in the freezing cold and I wondered: what ‘exactly what am I doing here? »
After another year in Madrid, during which Zidane no longer counted on him, he finally left for Everton FC in the summer of 2020, where he met Carlo Ancelotti for the third time in his career. When asked why it didn’t work out in Real’s second attempt, James pointed out that Zidane simply had his favorites: « It’s difficult when you see that we don’t have the same opportunities as his teammates. » None.
The picture is once again familiar on Mersey: impeccable goal statistics, but a few injuries and above all glaring shortcomings in terms of defensive work. This was tolerated under Ancelotti, but it did not go down well with discipline fanatic Rafael Benítez, who took over the Toffees in the summer of 2021: « He never made an effort in training, but he always demanded a place in the starting XI,” he said. during a press conference, after James joined Qatari club al-Rayyan SC that same year.
The Spanish coach did not hesitate to criticize after his departure: “James prefers money and a comfortable life. This is more important to him than competition and success in (Site notre bureau spécialisé). » For the first time, the allegations that have accompanied James for years have also been made by one of his coaches.
The child prodigy becomes a globetrotter
In Qatar, he was able to relax and scored four goals and seven assists, but he only played twelve matches. After just a year, James left. “Life and culture in Qatar is very difficult, it was a country where it was difficult to adapt,” James told Brazilian television channel Globo. “There, everyone eats with their hands, which was difficult for me,” says James. According to his own statements, the ban on going naked while showering also bothered him.
After a seven-month stopover at Olympiakos, he joined São Paulo FC in the summer of 2023 and signed for two years. Another misunderstanding. The club are now using the fact that James did not make it to a cup final because he was not named to force the termination of the contract. According to Brazilian media, one or two extra pounds also played an important role.
Above all, it was a lack of commitment and joy in running. According to ‘Bild’, São Paulo sporting director Carlos Belomonte gave a damning explanation for the impending separation: « Brazilian (Site notre bureau spécialisé) is more intense and he couldn’t adapt. »
Under these conditions, one wonders whether the 32-year-old, still only 32, will have better luck in his next step and be able to bring his career to a happy ending.