There’s no disguising the fact that James Rodriguez has been unhappy with the playing time he’s been getting at Bayern Munich under Niko Kovac. The Colombian ace has spent a lot of time on the bench and has started only 9 competitive matches this season.
New Colombia manager Carlos Quirez justifiably expressed some concern over James’s lack of minutes and promised to have a conversation with him in the near future (via SportBild):
I’ll have a conversation with him. A player of his caliber has to play as much as possible. That’s very important.
Playing regularly for your club is almost always a prerequisite for being selected for your national team, and Quirez acknowledged that some players chomp at the bit to join elite clubs when they come calling. But signing with a top club that may come at a price. Quirez added,
Players sometimes make trade-offs when they have the chance to play for Real Madrid, Manchester United, or FC Bayern.
James’s experience at Bayern, at least this season, is arguably a prime example of the phenomenon. Quirez undoubtedly would like to see James play more, especially as the captain of Colombia’s national team.
For James, the situation is complicated. He was brought to Bayern on loan under his former coach at Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti. He then worked hard to win Jupp Heynckes’s favor, but has struggled to find consistent minutes under Niko Kovac. It’s not often that a player is signed by one manager and then has to play under two different managers in only two seasons.
Although he has not given James a lot of minutes thus far, Kovac himself suggested he had erred on the side of caution in light of James’s recent recovery from injury. Kovac praised the player’s performance against Berlin in his press conference ahead of the match against Schalke:
I’ve always said that he’s an extraordinarily good soccer player. We had to bring him back into form somewhat after his injury, but when he’s fit, then he plays like he did in Berlin: magnificently! And that’s the best argument in favor of playing him.