Another day, another hint that James Rodriguez is unhappy with Bayern Munich. The seemingly never-ending saga of James’ future probably will not reach a conclusion until the summer, but every time James is benched we’ll likely hear the whispers of him being disgruntled and the murmurs that he’ll head back to Real Madrid next summer.
Truth be told, though, James never says anything definitive publicly. He is smart, savvy, and understands the public relations game. As Christian Falk wrote above, “A smile just for the camera.”
A summer of mixed messages
Given James’ relationship with Real Madrid, the rumors will ALWAYS persist about a potential future at the Bernabéu. James was depressed upon his arrival in Munich and after Zinedine Zidane left his position with Los Blancos, the rumors of a return by James started to regain momentum.
Publicly, James has never stated in concrete terms what he wants to do after the loan period ends. He will always defer to saying he is happy at Bayern and can’t foresee himself going anywhere, but with so many “leaks” stating just the opposite, the James saga is more likely a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” scenario than a “tabloid gobbledygook” extravaganza.
Whether it was his stepfather chiming in from South America or the pages of transfer rumors printed last summer, there is assuredly some substance to the thought that James has one foot out the door at Säbener Strasse.
Plugging the leaks
With James, there are always tips to the press on his feelings. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s a full-on outburst like we saw last week.
Wortloser Blitzabflug von @jamesdrodriguez. Bereits um 23:02 Uhr, also knapp 10 Minuten (!) nach Abpfiff, rauscht der Kolumbianer frischgeduscht aus der Arena ab. Frust-Potenzial scheint hoch zu sein. @SPORT1 #fantalk pic.twitter.com/RQIC7hsJuz— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) October 2, 2018
Silent lightning-fast exit by @jamesdrodriguez. Already at 23:02 o’clock, just 10 minutes (!) after the final whistle, the Colombian sped out of the arena freshly showered. Frustration potential seems high. @SPORT1 #fantalk
As reported previously — and not shockingly — Rodriguez has frequently been unhappy with Niko Kovač’s team selection. Following Bayern’s victory over Bayer Leverkusen last month, Fox Sports correspondent Ezequiel Daray reported that the Colombian international was unhappy with his playing time (video here; quotes via ComuTricolor.com).
Although he scored one goal and the other was disallowed, James Rodriguez left quite angry. He thought he would start this game because Niko Kovač asked him to stay and not to travel with Colombia.
James’ frustration from that point after the Leverkusen game has only gotten worse if you believe what the leaks to the press have stated.
Is James invested in a future in Munich?
Certainly James is tied to Bayern until next summer when the club will work in conjunction with Real Madrid to sort out the best scenario for moving forward. Make no mistake, Bayern holds the cards as to how this happens, but James is the one shuffling the deck. Bayern has the option to buy James for a reported €42M, which would be a bargain, considering his value is likely north of €80M.
If James doesn’t want to be in Bavaria, however, there is no amount of “We are Bayern” posturing by Uli Hoeneß or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that will make it happen. As James told the Suso’s Show last summer:
So far, I’m still here and I’ve had a spectacular first season so I’m very happy there and I feel like the club and the fans love me very much.
James always says a lot without committing to anything.
Another persistent theme when looking at James’ future is that he has not learned German. Some would question that as a lack of commitment. Rather than focus on that stance on the matter, it should really be an indicator that James’ long-term plans don’t include another Oktoberfest lederhosen photoshoot ... because James, historically, is neither unprofessional nor indifferent. Every move with James is calculated, and if learning German isn’t part of his long-term plan, then why would he his waste time making the effort?
Despite Bayern’s strategy for LATAM domination that centers on James, the player may opt to take his game to a club where he is more comfortable, rather than serve as a marketing focal point.
How this all could end
James has an ardent, vocal, and passionate fan base and deservedly so, as James is a supreme talent. Many of those fans may read two lines of this article and conclude that it’s bashing James, but it isn’t. In contrast to other footballers, and as stated earlier, James is intelligent, astute on public dealings, and fully aware of the effects that each leak or communication about him have on the speculation about his future.
If I had to guess, I’d say Bayern will exercise the option to buy James and then immediately sell him back to Real Madrid; a move that Los Blancos would likely be happy to accept, admitting their own mistake by absorbing a huge cost.
Based on everything I have read over the last year, I don’t believe James wants to spend the next leg of his life in Munich. Bayern is just a stop on the great trek that will be James’ career. Bearing that in mind, is it worth caring if he’s unhappy with his role? And to follow that train of thought, why do Bayern fans continue to fret over a hypothetical armageddon should James leave? I think it’s time to just acknowledge that this is what is likely to happen.
While I may admire James’ play and think he deserves a role in the starting XI, I’m also against making a player stay in a place where he’s neither fully committed nor happy, as that only has an adverse effect on his performance and the teammates around him.
Where to go from here
Today — as the roster is currently configured — James would be my “8” of choice sharing the midfield with Thiago manning the pivot and Thomas Muller working as the attacking mid. As it pertains to the future, though, I’m at the point of not caring whether James stays or goes because I believe he already has his bags packed.
This doesn’t mean James will “mail in” his performances, however — that would never happen. Being as clever and talented as James is, the Colombian international knows his value is only enhanced if he performs well with Bayern. After all, the Champions League is a fine stage for any player to add to his future star value and bank account.