James Rodriguez: Real Madrid's Gain Is Colombia's Loss

Daniel ReyFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 22:  James Rodriguez controls the ball during his unveiling as a new Real Madrid player at the Santaigo Bernabeu stadium on July 22, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Real agreed to buy Rodriguez from AS Monaco for the next six seasons for an undisclosed transfer fee.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

James Rodriguez is the third Colombian to play for Real Madrid after Freddy Rincon and Edwin Congo.

Amid the euphoria of the World Cup in Brazil and signing for Real Madrid yesterday, the question is whether Colombia will ever see James play the same way in a World Cup again. Due to the intensity of playing for Los Merengues, the answer is no.  

The 2014 World Cup was perfect for James. It was played in his continent, and such was the Colombian support that every match bar the quarter-final against Brazil might as well have been played in Barranquilla. James was under pressure to perform, but the fans’ expectation was managed. That will no longer be possible.

Burnout will be a critical factor. One need only look at the best two players in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to see how long European seasons can take their toll in a World Cup.

Messi produced moments of brilliance but looked jaded; Ronaldo lacked influence in a Portugal side that needed its star to shine.

If James settles quickly and plays 50 games a season with Real Madrid, that is bound to affect his performances at the 2015 Copa America in Chile and the 2018 World Cup in Russia should Colombia qualify.

This season, having played 34 games for Monaco and no Champions League, James was fresh and raring to go for Colombia. That will not be the case again.

That said; at least burnout from La Liga is not as bad as in the Premier League. Many matches in the division can be waltzed through and energy conserved.

James will carry an enormous weight of expectation every time he plays for Los Cafeteros.

He will captain Colombia one day, and that will only add to the pressure. He is as equipped as anyone to deal with it, but it may prove too much to ask him to reproduce his best form after a long season with Real Madrid.

Colombians will have to accept that this is the price to pay for James Rodriguez’s inevitable rise to superstardom. His career will now be defined by how he plays for Real Madrid, not Colombia.

The good news is that at Real Madrid, he will be one "galactico" among many. To improve as a player, James will learn from his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal captain will help James strive to improve despite the potential distractions of fame. He is a great footballing example for James.

James is a well-rounded young man hero-worshipped by Colombians and loved by everyone in football. He will light up La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, but it must be recognised that it is most unlikely that he will hit such heights in a World Cup for Colombia again.