Football

Fernando Morientes: James Rodriguez not the right fit for Real Madrid’s system

James Rodriguez is a great talent but he's not the right fit for Real Madrid's tactical system, according to Fernando Morientes.

James Rodriguez is a “great talent” but he’s not the right fit for Real Madrid’s “tactical system”, according to Fernando Morientes.

Madrid completed the signing of James following his stellar displays for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, prising him away from Monaco for a fee of €75 million (£68m/$85m).

The 29-year-old has since racked up 125 appearances for the Blancos in all competitions, scoring 37 goals and laying on 42 assists, but has never quite managed to establish himself as a first-team regular.

Madrid decided to send the midfielder out on loan to Bayern Munich for two years in 2017, and he found himself even further down the squad pecking order upon his return to Santiago Bernabeu last summer.

James has only featured in 14 games for Zinedine Zidane’s side this season, with just eight of those outings coming in La Liga.

He was left out of Madrid’s matchday squad for the 2-1 victory away at Granada on Monday, which saw them move to within one more victory of domestic glory.

The former Monaco star still has one year left to run on his current contract at the Bernabeu, but the Blancos have been tipped to cash in on the out-of-favour star when the transfer window reopens.

A move to the Premier League has been mooted for James in recent months, with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton all credited with an interest in his services.

Morientes cannot see the Colombian forcing his way back into Zidane’s starting XI, but he is certain that James is capable of rediscovering his best form at another club.

The former Madrid striker told La Liga TV: “He has a great talent and he is a special player but does not fit in Real Madrid’s tactical system. I am sure he can succeed in any other team.”

The Blancos are currently sitting top of La Liga by four points ahead of arch-rivals Barcelona, with only two fixtures remaining.

Karim Benzema notched his 24th goal of the season against Granada to ensure Madrid kept one hand on the title, and Morientes has been hugely impressed by the Frenchman’s contribution this term.

“Benzema is having a fantastic season, he has assumed the role of leader with [Sergio] Ramos and if nothing prevents it, he will soon be a league champion,” the Spaniard added.

“He has given the team what they needed after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.”

Zidane’s men will be named La Liga champions if they can secure a 10th successive victory at home to Villarreal on Thursday.

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