Haters and doubters? Check. Supporters and fans? Over 32 million of those on Instagram alone. Without question, James Rodríguez is still a galáctico, and he always will be.
Blessed with a razor-sharp left foot, a marketable smile and a résumé that any footballer would dream of, James is a world-class superstar that’s still getting better.
After 36 goals, 38 assists, a League title and two European Championships, James was loaned to German giants Bayern Munich, king of the Bundesliga and an annual contender in the Champions League.
If you think it’s a demotion, you’re naive. I know, nothing can top Real Madrid. James knows that, too. But c’mon, people. He’s going to play at the Allianz Arena for a perennial League champion and five-time European Cup winner.
He’ll make an immediate impact in the Champions League and play for a manager that values him immensely. Carlo Ancelotti knows that the player that scored 17 goals for Real Madrid in 2014 is now stronger, wiser and hungrier and ever.
From a business perspective, the 2-year loan benefits all parties. The Colombian captain will earn over €8 million a year until 2019. Bayern will have the option of signing James permanently for around €40 million, a far cry from the €80 million that Real Madrid paid Monaco after the last World Cup.
European football is as much about trophies as it is about global expansion. By signing James, the Bayern Munich brand will explode around the world, particularly in Colombia and South America.
Those 32 million followers of his on Instagram and the 12 million on Twitter became instant Bayern fans. And I’m sure Madridistas from around the world will support James from afar.
So, Real Madrid no longer has to pay his wages and can now focus on signing their next galáctico, Ligue 1 star Kylian Mbappe. Meanwhile James will have a golden opportunity to prove his worth and potentially increase his market value. It’s a win-win.
Were his three years at Real Madrid a failure? Hardly. Were they underwhelming? Possibly, but you’d have to consider the factors. An €80 million transfer fee heaps ungodly expectations on any player in the world not named Messi or Cristiano.
James played for three different managers with three very different tactical philosophies. In 2017, Bayern Munich are getting a versatile creative midfielder with impeccable touch and elite field awareness. He’s a classic number 10 with very modern footballing characteristics.
He’ll shoot from anywhere and can carve up a defense that parks the bus, or lead a three-man counter if the game opens up. In the right situation, he’ll put a team on his back and run through a brick wall for his teammates.
At 26, James Rodríguez is a global superstar that’s trending up. He’ll crush this opportunity at Bayern. On the pitch and in the marketing department.