James is a 'real player' but hasn't capitalised on his 'advantages' at Real Madrid, says Mendieta


Gaizka Mendieta has described James Rodriguez as a "real player", but says the Real Madrid star hasn't capitalised on his "advantages" since joining the club.

James played a starring role in Colombia's run to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, attracting attention from a number of Europe's top clubs in the process.

Madrid won the race for his signature later that summer, tying the midfielder down to a six-year contract after agreeing a £71 million ($90m) deal with Monaco.

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The 28-year-old has featured in 124 matches for the Blancos since then, scoring 38 goals, while also getting his hands on a Liga title and two European Cups.

However, James has never quite been able to establish himself as a regular in Zinedine Zidane's line-up amid strong competition for places within the Madrid squad.

The Colombia international returned to Santiago Bernabeu last summer after a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich, but has only featured in 13 games across all competitions in 2019-20.

Madrid have been tipped to cash in on James before he becomes a free agent in 2021, and Mendieta admits that the talented no.10 has used up all of his nine lives in the Spanish capital.

The ex-Valencia star, who also enjoyed a loan spell at Barcelona at the height of his career, told El Espectador of the Madrid outcast's current position: "James seems like a real player to me.

"I really enjoy watching him and I'd like to see him on the pitch more, but due to injury and other reasons he hasn't been.

"A club like Real Madrid can't give players advantages, but he's had them given to him."

The current Liga season has been on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the action is set to resume this weekend behind closed doors.

Real Madrid are scheduled to play host to Eibar at an empty Bernabeu on Sunday, and Mendieta says that although the players will soon "get used to" the lack of atmosphere, it won't be too long before supporters are allowed to return to stadiums across Spain.

"In the short term it will be affected," he said. "But in the medium and long-term, I think it'll return to the same [as before].

"We'll get used to it, adapt to the circumstances and people will return to the stadiums, when it's safe to do so, with the same passion.

"What's happening now will shape us as a society because it's taught us about what are our priorities in life."

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