Ironically, in one of James Rodriguez’s best performances in a FC Bayern Munchen shirt, he showed that he doesn’t belong at the German giants.
Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League second leg semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern captured everything that is special about Rodriguez. Playing just behind Robert Lewandowski, he showed his newly developed versatility – his calmly taken goal with his less favoured right-foot was further proof of his immense capabilities in the final third of the field, while his 79 passes for the match highlighted how comfortable he has become in the middle of the park, both in helping out defenders and with the ball at his feet.
His raw talent, pace, skill, vision, technique, work-rate and composure were quite something to behold. Rodriguez is on loan at Bayern from Real Madrid and part of the deal states that the Bundesliga champions will have the option to buy him for £37million at the end of the season should they wish to – what a bargain that seemed for 81 minutes last night.
However, in the 82nd minute of the biggest game of Bayern’s season, he did the unforgivable.
With time ticking down at the Bernabeu, Bayern looked to be closing in on a winner when Marco Asensio slipped and stayed down.
It was a fair challenge on the Spaniard, but as he remained on the turf boos rung around the stadium. Rodriguez got hold of the ball and then opted to put it out for a Real throw-in, completely halting his side’s momentum. Needless to say Asensio was back up and running shortly thereafter.
That Rodriguez never celebrated his goal earlier in the game was bad enough – to show that kind of restraint in a match where the stakes are so high says very little about the passion he has for Bayern.
But to then kick the ball out during such an important period of play when there was absolutely no need to, tells the full story.
Rodriguez’s heart lies elsewhere and that level of disrespect shouldn’t fly at Bayern. If playing for the Galácticos means that much to him, then he should have been brave enough to stay and fight for his place in the team and risk sitting on the bench.
With 28 domestic league titles, 18 DFB Pokal trophies and five UEFA Champions League/European Cup medals to their name, Bayern are arguably the biggest club in Europe. They deserve to be represented only by players who are 100 per cent committed to their cause. If the club is good enough for legends like Oliver Kahn, Philipp Lahm, Franz Beckenbauer, Arjen Robben and Lothar Matthäus, then it’s definitely good enough for Rodriguez.
Furthermore, the arrogance in Rodriguez’s actions was astonishing. If he were a Real Madrid legend who had played at Los Blancos for many years and had developed a strong relationship with the fans then one might understand why his allegiances were so split. He hasn’t though. 77 appearances between 2014 and 2017 make him a player of very little significance in the grander scheme of life in the Spanish capital.
Rodríguez should be immensely grateful for the wholehearted manner in which Bayern have embraced him and the patience they have exhibited throughout his injury lay-offs.
That Jupp Heynckes subbed him almost immediately after the incident was telling – especially when one considers that he looked the most likely to find the back of the net out of all the Bayern players. The reaction of many Bayern fans on Social Media was equally so.
As gifted as Rodriguez is, Bayern don’t need players who are not entirely invested in the club.