James Rodriguez has asked Real Madrid to guarantee the sale of Isco this summer before he extends his contract with the La Liga giants, according to a report in Spanish newspaper, AS. The Colombian midfielder had started the season behind Isco, Marco Asensio, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the pecking order, but recent performances have seen him put in promising displays, with James revealing his desire to stay.
After Madrid’s 4-1 win over Eibar, he said, “Whenever I get given a chance I try to do well. That’s all I’m focused on. I want to be here forever. You need to be aware that in life and in football you never know what’s going to happen, but I want to stay here.”
The current situation is a huge reversal from the start of the new year, as James Rodriguez had voiced his frustration at the lack of playing time, threatening to leave the club as he had ‘offers’ to consider. Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has started to feature James Rodriguez much more regularly since that outburst, with the Colombian gradually becoming more integral to Real Madrid.
It seems that Isco has had a Jack Wilshere moment over the last 48 hours and is starting to wonder whether he might not be better served playing first-team football elsewhere. With speculation that James Rodriguez could move before the transfer deadline, Sportsmail looks at the two jewels in Real’s midfield crown and how they have fallen so far out of favour.
In the 2014-15 season they were two of the first names on the team-sheet. Carlo Ancelotti was the manager and with Gareth Bale out injured, he was playing 4-4-2 with James, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. It was working well, too. That was the team for much of the incredible run of 22 straight wins. When Bale returned Madrid switched back to 4-3-3 and James and Isco took turns to sit out.
The presence of Isco is the squad is seen as an obstacle by James, according to the report. The former Malaga midfielder only has 1 year remaining on his contract, and has suspended talks of a renewal, leading to Real Madrid considering a sale.
James’s deal runs until 2020, but Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is keen to tie him down to a longer deal, considering him a future Ballon d’Or star to build the team around. The Colombian superstar wants a guarantee from Real Madrid regarding his time on the pitch – as he considers Isco competition for his spot.
With 6 goals and 6 assists in 1468 minutes this season, Isco has been involved in a goal every 122 minutes for Real Madrid. In comparison, James Rodriguez is much better, contributing to a goal every 73 minutes, as his 5 goals and 12 assists this season have come only in 1247 minutes.
Contract demands are usually an ugly affair in any negotiation, but James’ request for guaranteed play-time is quite reasonable. Zinedine Zidane has favoured playing the slightly younger Isco in the past, which is why James’ concerns could be well founded. The Colombian has a higher commercial profile too, which could sway Real Madrid’s decision in the matter.