Unhappy Rodriguez a problem for Madrid entering new year
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 20, 2016 09:54 AM
Real Madrid's James Rodriguez, center, controls the ball during a training session at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. Real Madrid and Japan's Kashima Antlers will play in Sunday's final. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Unhappy with his lack of playing time, James Rodriguez has become a nuisance for Real Madrid.
As most players were celebrating the team's victory at the Club World Cup in Japan, Rodriguez was telling reporters about his disappointment of not playing enough minutes under coach Zinedine Zidane.
He hinted that he may leave Madrid, which means the club will begin the new year either trying to make Rodriguez happy again, or trying to find him another team.
Rodriguez, who arrived amid high expectations after thriving with Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, has a contract until June 2020, but he said he will use his time off during the winter break to try to make a decision about his future.
"I can't guarantee that I will stay," the 25-year-old Rodriguez said. "I have to think about everything very carefully. I'm happy here, but I want to play more. And if I want to play more, I have to think about all of my options."
Rodriguez played the last 20 minutes of Madrid's semifinal match against Club America at the Club World Cup, and said he was disappointed for not having a chance to play in the final.
His complaints after the match didn't sit well with some of his teammates.
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said it wasn't the time to be thinking about "personal issues."
"I respect him and I hope that he stays, but today is a day to be happy, not to focus on other things," Ramos said after Madrid defeated Kashima Antlers 4-2 in extra time to win the title.
Rodriguez quickly became a first-choice selection for coach Carlo Ancelotti after his arrival following the World Cup, but his playing time gradually diminished the following seasons.
The talented playmaker has had very few opportunities under Zidane, who has preferred to use more dynamic players in the midfield. Rodriguez has been relegated to the bench most of the time, and even then he hasn't been getting many chances as a substitute.
"I wouldn't leave if I were James," Zidane said recently. "I would stay in this great club. I think he will have minutes here. We know of his quality. He will be an important player for us."
The top scorer at the World Cup in Brazil, Rodriguez has only two goals in 16 appearances this season, one of them in the 6-1 win over Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey, when nearly all of the team's top players were rested.
If Rodriguez ends up deciding to leave, it's likely that Madrid will try to negotiate either a trade or a loan instead of keeping the midfielder. He is still likely to be wanted by some of Europe's top teams, and Spanish media has already linked him to clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
Madrid's next game is Jan. 7 against Granada in the Spanish league, a competition it leads with 37 points from 15 matches.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni