James Rodriguez moves to Munich
Bayern-Munich announced their acquisition this past week of attacking-midfielder James Rodriguez. The 26 year-old is on loan for two years from Real Madrid.
Bayern released a video Thursday showing the Colombian international taking his first steps onto the practice pitch as a member of Munich’s reds. And the club streamed his entire first practice session on Facebook.
Born a champion
Rodriguez had been at the Bernabéu since transferring from AS Monaco in 2014. That was also the year of his emergence on the world stage at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
He scored 6 goals in that tournament and walked away with a Golden Boot. He led his country to its first ever appearance in the quarterfinals with an out-of-this-world volley that put his name on lips the world over.
And then he went on to teach everyone in the sporting world what the proper pronunciation of his name actually ought to be.
Not a bad summer’s work…”James” it is then.
But now three years on he is also a veteran of international professional football. With Real he has been part of two consecutive Champions League winning sides, played for three of the most successful managers in the world game, and even won two FIFA Club World Cups.
All of that success begs the question of why this transfer happened and why it happened now.
Bale back in and not likely to bail out
Rodríguez has scored his share of goals in his time with Madrid, but he is strictly the second-tier to the “BBC” front-line. James’ best opportunity to move up and convert that line to “JBC” came last year with Gareth Bale’s injury.
Bale came back, however, and signed a new contract recently to see him at the Bernabéu until about the time the next World Cup rolls around. That’s Qatar, not Russia.
As of late, James and the rest of the Galacticos have enjoyed the guidance of all-time France great, Zinedine Zidane. Zidane replaced Rafa Benítez two years ago, and Benítez had replaced Carlo Ancelotti the year prior.
Zidane claims to be happy at Real and would like to retire there. But given the realities of the modern game and the coaching profession “Zizou” ought to be working on a maximum three year plan with Madrid. The cornerstone of his plan concerns the BBC front-line as it stands right now.
Though Zidane is said to have been pursuing an Eden Hazard transfer from Chelsea this summer, there does not seem to be much chance he will disrupt the front three in any significant way. Certainly there was no room for James, a natural no. 10, up front until either CR7 retired or Zidane moved on.
More room at Bayern?
Just an hour after releasing the video of James (linked above) Bayern further touted the strength of its youthful roster. They noted that their club alone could have fielded an entire squad at the U-21 European championship, which concluded last month. And it would likely have not been a bad one given that Germany won.
Why then reunite James and Ancelotti now at the Allianz Arena, home to the Bundesliga’s reigning champion?
For his part Ancelotti has just seen Lahm and Alonso retire. And he knows that Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben cannot carry the team as often or as far as they could before. Ancelotti and his boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have also likely heard the grumbling of the Bavarian faithful about the disappointment at “only” winning the Bundesliga title last year.
Where’s the double? When will we see the next treble?
All in all, next year is shaping up to be even more difficult for Bayern. It will be harder still to fight off pretenders like Leipzig and BVB, and then again to keep fresh legs on the pitch to compete at the Champions League level. And how long will they be able to keep Lewandowski happy in red?
Room for James Rodriguez?
They must be wondering whether he could bring a few more along from Spain with him.