Shortly after the win at the Club World Cup, James talked about the idea of leaving his favorite team in the Spanish Capital.
“I’m happy here, but I want to play more,” James said. “I want to stay at Madrid forever, but you have to think about everything and look at your options. I have offers and I've got seven days to think about it."
- James; Source
His agent recently told AS that his client isn’t going anywhere...yet.
“James will not be leaving Madrid in January,”
- Jorge Mendes, Source: AS
Try this one for size, in a squad of 24 players he ranks 20th most used. How many minutes has he had this season? Only 859 though all competitions . Since Zidane took the reigns from Rafa Benítez, the Colombian wunderkind has played a total of 2,091 minutes or to break down another way it’s just 43.3% of minutes available.
Let’s face facts, James is spare parts.
He spent the Club World Cup final rooting from the bench. A player of his caliber shouldn’t be sitting out a cup final. But Zidane saw no need for him - which might have been why he was a bit salty and said what he said.
Now, with January on the horizon the rumor mill is running full tilt. Everyone from Juventus to Chelsea want a shot at the midfielder. Recently it was reported that James had returned to his native Colombia to obtain an UK passport.
If for some reason James doesn’t depart during the January window, I do believe he will be gone come the summer, and you can bet he isn’t going to go cheap, as Real Madrid will be looking to make a sizable profit.
Real Madrid is his dream club and he’s torn between his loyalty to the club and the need to see more playing time. This season in La Liga, he’s only made 8 appearances with 378 minutes of playing time. He’s a fixture on the bench, because Asensio and Isco are still above him in the pecking order. I’d imagine it’s frustrating that when it comes down to it, you’re not in the boss's plans.
Now factoring in injuries to Kovacic and Vázquez, I’d imagine that he’s going see the pitch more often and possibly get a start or two.
But we all know this is nothing but temporary minutes, as once both return from their injuries, down the pecking order he goes. This could also hinder (possibly) his playing time with the Colombian national team. Yes, he’s the team captain but can you justify a spot on the national team roster if that player isn’t getting the requisite minutes with his club side?
When he does put in his transfer request I’m sure he won’t have a lack of suitors coming to call. Speaking of that, let's take a look at a few of the teams that could land the Colombian’s services.
Before the Red Devils went all in with Paul Pogba, they were rumored to have made a €70 million bid for the Colombian. Manchester United currently sit 6th in the Premier League, and are lacking a bit in the creativity department. James linking up with the likes of Paul Pogba are drool worthy and if Anthony Martial makes his exit from Old Trafford as rumored, they could swing in with the cash for James.
Unai Emery’s squad currently lie 3rd in Ligue 1. So far some of the players they have brought in during the summer have turned out to be off form and scraping for minutes (I’m looking at you Jesé). The only thing that makes this interesting is the relationship that Florentino Pérez has with PSG ownership that could maybe make it possible to ship the Colombian to the French giants.
Dude the loss of Paul Pogba, the Old Lady tried to sign him last summer. When they couldn’t land James they picked up Miralem Pjanic from Roma. A pairing of Pjanic and James would be a fearsome duo in the middle of the pitch.
Inter’s new owners want to return the club back to the top of Serie A (good luck with that) and James could help them move towards that goal. The ownership have serious cash to splash and most likely wouldn’t blink at James’ price tag. Inter currently find themselves in 7th, 12 points behind the Bianconeri.
Of all the teams on this list, Chelsea is the one that he has been linked with the most. The current rumor is that Chelsea could offer Thibaut Courtois in the summer. The question for me is, how would he fit into the 3-4-3. Though he could easily supplant either Pedro or Willian on the wing or add some creativity to the midfield. I don’t see a straight swap happening. Seems a bit out there to me.
For James to reach his full potential he needs to leave the safe confines of the Bernabéu. It’s time for him to leave the nest so to peak. With the minutes he’s going to be picking because of injuries, he needs to shine. This is the time for him to essentially sell himself to future clubs.
If he doesn’t do well and his form dips - it could hurt him in this or the summer window. The pressure is all on him to impress his manager and his future team. I want him to see him succeed, I really do, but to do that he needs to move on from Los Blancos. That may be the best course of action for the 25 year-old Colombian.