Most professional footballers seek assistance from a psychologist to gain an extra edge in their pursuit of glory, but Zinedine Zidane wants Real Madrid star James Rodriguez to see a psychologist for potential mental problems.
According to Spanish publication Sport, Los Blancos’ manager is so upset with James’ attitude and performance that he has suggested the Colombian seek professional help.
James shot to fame at the 2014 World Cup and joined Madrid for £63 million less than a month after the tournament’s conclusion. He enjoyed a fine first season in Spain, scoring 13 league goals, but his sophomore campaign has been marred by weight issues, acts of indiscipline and nights out partying.
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The 24-year-old has also been involved in a run-in with the police after driving at 200km/h despite several requests to slow down.
It would appear James has struggled to cope with his new-found status as a Galactico.
The level of scrutiny at a club like Madrid is enormous. Los Blancos topped Forbes’ list of most valuable football teams last year and there’s simply no hiding at the Bernabeu - just ask Jonathan Woodgate, who scored an own goal and was sent off on his debut, and Michael Owen, who lasted just one season in Spain.
James has completed 90 minutes just once since Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez last month, but the problems arose prior to the Frenchman’s arrival.
Refusal to return early
According to Goal, the downfall began when James refused Benitez’s request to return to pre-season training early - hardly a great way to introduce yourself to the new manager.
The attacking midfielder suffered a thigh injury while on international duty that forced him to miss seven weeks and rumours began circling that he was carrying too much weight upon his return to action.
But Madrid were always likely to support James after investing £63m in signing him from Monaco and an injury to Gareth Bale has allowed the no. 10 to see more game-time lately.
He has started all but one of Madrid’s previous six games and shone in the recent 4-2 win against Athletic Bilbao.
Now, Zidane needs to see the player perform well on a regular basis and hopes a psychologist will help do the trick.
The 43-year-old’s 4-3-3 system isn’t ideal for the attacking midfielder as it forces him to play on the right wing, despite his most comfortable position being in the middle. The best system for James is probably 4-2-3-1, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale on the flanks and Karim Benzema ahead of him.
But, of course, Zidane is calling the shots, not James.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Madrid will consider selling the playmaker this summer. They could coup a sizeable amount for him while getting rid of a player who doesn’t fit in the system.