Monaco’s James Rodriguez has been hailed as the outstanding star of the tournament by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, after his brace helped secure Colombia’s place in the quarter finals.
Rodriguez kept up his record of scoring in each of Colombia’s games in the competition so far and took his personal tally to five for the tournament, putting him to the top of the goalscoring charts ahead of the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi.
22-year-old Rodriguez came first came to prominence whilst playing for Porto, whom he joined from Argentinian side Banfield for a reported €5.1 million. The winger scored 25 times in his 63 league games with the Portuguese side and won three consecutive Superliga titles in his three years at the Estadio do Dragao before securing a big money move to AS Monaco for €45 million.
The fee made Rodriguez the second most expensive Colombian player of all time behind fellow Monaco acquisition Radamel Falcao, who set the newly promoted French side back €60 million.
Falcao was expected to spearhead Colombia’s World Cup assault but a knee injury in January ruled him out for the rest of the domestic season and cast doubt over his participation in the World Cup, before the former Athletico Madrid and Porto striker was ruled out of the competition in June.
Interest in his signature
Rodriguez has certainly stepped up to the plate in his club colleague's absence and has showed why Monaco were willing to pay so much to capture his signature ahead of the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, who were also watching the progress of the youngster with interest.
His tournament began with the final goal in the 3-0 rout over Greece, a coolly placed finish into the bottom corner, before a header from a corner put Colombia ahead against the Ivory Coast in the second game. Rodriguez then added the fourth and final goal against Japan in the final game in Group C with a delightful dinked finish to finish off a lovely move.
The 22-year-old saved his best for the knockout stages however with a scintillating volley that crashed in off the underside of Uruguay's crossbar. Rodriguez dropped off into space, collecting Abel Aguillar’s headed pass with his chest and hitting a devastating volley on the turn that left the Uruguayan ‘keeper clutching at thin air.
He went on to add his and Colombia’s second with a close range finish from Juan Cuadrado’s cut back and coach Jese Pekerman was quick to give his assessment of his star man.
"I never had any doubts that this was going to be his World Cup," he said.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also stated his admiration for the Colombian following his impressive display.
"For me, talents are those who do things that have nothing to do with their life experience.
"Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez - they do things because they have a certain gift which makes them special.
"In my long experience in football, I've had extraordinary footballers in my teams, elite players of a very high technical level.
"What is most surprising is that, at his young age, he does not have any problem doing things football players take many years to understand.
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