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How James Can Save His Real Madrid Career

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The Colombian superstar needs to adapt his game in order to become an all-around CM

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

James Rodriguez is a name that polarizes the Real Madrid fan base. Those who in favour of keeping the number ten recognize the 25-year-old's raw ability to be an attacking threat. Armed with a cannon of a left foot along with leadership capabilities that are showcased during his international appearances, James would naturally make any team better with his characteristics. On the other end of the spectrum, those who are for selling the South American think his inability to properly work with Madrid's 4-3-3 style of play, in some ways exile him from the starting eleven, thus selling him reduces the hindering of his development.

I hear both sides. Though I feel James' best position is in the middle of all the action hovering in-and-out the false ten role, I thoroughly believe James has all the traits needed to be morphed into an interior midfielder. His coaches in the past have praised his work-ethic to attack and defend, not to mention his eye for a killer pass. The reality is that Isco, a player who could be viewed through a similar prism as James, was under the exact same situation not long ago. The former-Malaga man could play on the wings, in the middle, and even play false ten despite not being as direct as his fellow Madrid teammate.  Essentially, Isco did not organically slot into a 4-3-3 but has developed his game in order to remain in the club's plans.

Simply dismissing James by saying he's unable to fine-tune his playing method like Isco is a gross over-generalization and underestimates the gem of a talent Madrid have on their hands. We have seen players evolve; Andrea Pirlo, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Antoine Griezmann just to name a few. When it comes to James, why is the consensus that ALL play must go through him? Gareth Bale very much had Tottenham revolve around his strengths but since coming to Madrid where different egos, instincts, and skills must congeal he has developed to become an elite forward. Similarly, James must undergo an evolution in order to add depth to his game and become more refined.

I know for many Zinedine Zidane can do no wrong for what he has accomplished as a player and manager for Real. But the Frenchman needs to hold some responsibility for not giving James Rodriguez and others like Mateo Kovacic and Jese Rodriguez more chances to prove themselves. Understandably when Zidane took over his mission was to win as many games as possible to catch Barcelona in the title race as well as ensure Madrid's inclusion in the all-important UEFA Champions League. However, I call Zizou out because there were games where Madrid ran away with results and windows of opportunities opened for these players.

Times like this make or break a player. James Rodriguez needs to prove his worth and cannot only live off of his 2014 World Cup performances forever. This isn't the time for him to sulk in his incapability to assert himself into Zizou's plans. Instead, the Colombian should respond like a true, elite-player and hit the training ground to hone his short-comings as a midfielder. He is not the best dribbler - so work on dribbling. He is not the fastest - so work on improving agility and speed. So on and so forth. If James is sold by Real Madrid without even attempting to modernize, all things considered I think the neutral would feel that he let his Galactico career slip through his hands by his own volition.