Murcia (Spain) (AFP) – Colombia coach Jose Pekerman defended star midfielder James Rodriguez’s quality, but said the 2014 World Cup top scorer has an important decision to make over his future at club level.
Rodriguez was left out of Real Madrid’s 18-man squad for Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing of Juventus in the Champions League final, further fuelling rumours that his time at the Santiago Bernabeu is coming to an end.
“We know that in James we have a star, an exceptional player, there are very few players in the world like him and for Colombia he is fundamental,” Pekerman said ahead of Colombia’s friendly against Spain in Murcia on Wednesday.
Rodriguez has struggled to find a regular place in the Madrid midfield since Zinedine Zidane took charge 18 months ago and fell even further down the pecking order this season as Isco and Marco Asensio came to the fore to help Real complete a first La Liga and Champions League double for 59 years.
However, Pekerman believes Rodriguez’s return of 11 goals and 13 assists from just 33 appearances this season shows he still has the talent to succeed at a top club.
“James is clear that it has been a difficult year, but in the second half of the season I have seen great determination.
“Knowing the club he is at is a world class club and the high demands, he had a lot of good performances and contributed to their good season.”
Rodriguez, who joined Madrid for a reported 80 million euros ($90 million) from Monaco in 2014, has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Inter Milan, and Pekerman is particularly keen that his next move is the right one just a year out from the World Cup in Russia.
“They will have to decide what options could be best for him and for the club,” added the Argentine.
“It is an important joint decision and hopefully it is for the best.”
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