Zinedine Zidane no longer appears painfully uncomfortable when asked about James Rodriguez, with the Colombian’s performances having taken him from being an unwanted extra in Madrid to essentially a new Galactico signing.
Florentino Perez‘s quiet courtship of Neymar ultimately failed to yield any results, and Real Madrid had real trouble finding a buyer for either Gareth Bale or James.
As such, both players have been forced to stay in the Spanish capital and injuries have forced the French coach to turn to the players he had previously spurned.
“James has been very good and he is leaving everything out on the pitch,” Zidane explained after the victory over Levante.
“He’s exhausted now, but I’m happy for him, he has played very well.”
It was either Napoli or Atletico Madrid, those were the two clubs where the former Monaco star would likely be playing his football in 2019/20.
However, once a move fell through the South American got what he wanted all along, a second chance with Los Blancos.
Out of the four LaLiga Santander matches played, James has appeared in two of them, performing well on both occasions.
All the indications are that he will be a key player this season, especially if he maintains this positive attitude and good working relationship with his coach.
Having always been a fan favourite ever since he arrived fresh from his heroics at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it should come as little surprise that James‘ No.16 shirts are now flying off the shelves as if he was a new signing.
The relationship between player and coach broke down completely after the playmaker was left out of the squad completely for Los Blancos’ Champions League final in Cardiff.
Now there appears to be a peace between the duo, although there has yet to be a sustained period of negative results which tests this entente cordiale.
In his first home appearance since returning to the club, the Colombian ran more than 10km and he made 63 successful passes.
Back at the arena where he had always wanted to be, James played like a man possessed, and he also brought the best out of Karim Benzema through the middle, something Vinicius Junior hasn’t been able to do this term.
Attention now turns to the glamour of the Champions League, the biggest club competition in world football, and there is an almighty collision between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain to kick the competition off.
Having not been involved in a single Los Blancos Champions League event since that fateful night in Wales, James is now expected to start and lead Zidane‘s charges to a positive result in Paris.