James Rodriguez was on top of the world in 2014.
The Colombian international sealed a big-money move to Real Madrid after a blistering performance at the World Cup. His six goals in Brazil were enough to see him collect the Golden Boot, and he also won the Puskas Award for that incredible strike against Uruguay.
Few could have predicted that two years later, James would pretty much be a non-factor at the Bernabeu.
To prove just how far down the pecking order James has fallen, he has played just seven minutes in Madrid’s past two games despite injuries to Toni Kroos, Casemiro.
Against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League last night, Zinedine Zidane turned to Marco Asensio when Gareth Bale was struck by injury.
For a player who cost £63 million, the 25-year-old is certainly turning into a costly investment. He’s started just four games all season.
Spanish newspaper Sport believe Zidane has a lack of confidence in the attacking-midfielder, as evidenced by his decision to choose Isco and Mateo Kovacic as Kroos and Casemiro’s replacements.
Furthermore, they highlight the point that James has only been selected in second-level matches - aside from seven minutes in the Madrid derby and a rare start against Borussia Dortmund in September, James hasn’t been picked to play in any high-profile matches.
James' lack of commitment is an issue
Sport believe that the former Monaco man’s lack of commitment and questionable attitude are becoming problems. Indeed, reports about the Colombian’s excessive partying certainly won’t have pleased Madrid chiefs.
Zidane will reportedly block James’ attempts to leave Madrid in January due to the club’s transfer ban.
The idea that James wishes to end his Madrid misery goes against what he said just two months ago.
“Real Madrid is my dream. I hope it lasts much more time,” he said, via the Daily Mail.
“My family and I are very happy in Madrid and in the team. I will fight to stay here forever.'
“It's not true that I've had a bad time. Me not speaking [to the public] doesn't mean I have a bad relationship with anyone.
'We are united as a team and everyone has supported me here since the first day. We want more wins and more records.”
Madrid’s transfer ban, which prevents them from signing players until 2018, could end up being the worst thing for James. He’s trapped on the bench but Zidane has no intentions to sell.