Interestingly, the reports cites James’ lack of pace and poor defensive ability as the reasons why he has not been in favor with Bayern coach Niko Kovac:
James Rodriguez is expected to return to Real Madrid this summer after Bayern Munich decided against exercising their purchase clause, reports kicker. The Colombian is entering the final months of a two-year loan deal at the Bavarian club and previously appeared to say that he is open to a return to Madrid this summer. This fresh report now claims Bayern chiefs will look to reinvest elsewhere in their squad, with James lacking pace and not offering enough in defense.
In the DFB-Pokal semifinal against Werder Bremen, James appeared to play with a bit more defensive awareness and fire than normal during his appearance as a substitute. James even engaging in some pushing and shoving on the pitch after some physical play which he initiated.
In addition, Spanish outlet Marca also thinks that the divorce between James and Bayern is imminent. Marca speculates that Kovac has refused to feature James because the 27-year-old has refused to commit to a future with Bayern.
The midfielder hasn’t started any of the club’s last four games, spending three of those on the bench and one in the stands. Reports say that Rodriguez’s lack of action has been down to injury problems, with his last appearance for Bayern ending at half time of their DFB-Pokal clash with Heidenheim at the start of April due to muscle problems. However, the nature of the situation suggests that Niko Kovac is refusing to use him, even if he is fully fit, due to his unwillingness to stay.
Marca went even further to say that James officially communicated to the Bayern board that he wants to exit Munich:
The Colombian has recently told the Bayern board that he wishes to leave when his loan from Real Madrid ends this summer, rather than the Bundesliga side make his move permanent.
Meanwhile, Sport also cited James’ lack of speed as a reason why Kovac wants to move on from the Colombian. They state,
According to the coach, the Colombian’s style of play has not just coalesced with his way of running the team. Kovac believes that James is a slow player for a game scheme based on speed, as is that of Bayern.
James’ departure has seemed to be a long time coming. For the better part of a year, the Colombian has been linked to on-again, off-again rumors that he does not want to remain in Bavaria past June. If the above reports are true, the split would be one that is mutual and wanted by both parties.
While extremely skilled and talented, James does not appear to be what Niko Kovac wants from a central midfielder. Kovac seems to prefer more versatile and/or athletic options like Thomas Müller, Leon Goretzka, and Corentin Tolisso at the “10.” The best case scenario for all involved would be an amicable parting of ways that allows James to work with Real Madrid to find a new home.
Given Bayern’s proclivity to maintain good relationships with other top-tier clubs, it seems highly unlikely that Bayern would purchase James just to flip him for a profit. The bet is that Bayern will let James return to Spain where Los Blancos can sell him off. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said as much explicitly in an interview in January:
That’s not Bayern Munich’s style. When we decide in favor of a seasoned player, then he remains part of Bayern Munich.
James and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane do not exactly have a great history together, so it would appear that teams like Juventus, Arsenal, and Liverpool can safely start preparing bids to help fortify their respective midfield attacking options.