What Is the Minimum Requirement for James Rodriguez at Real Madrid This Season?

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2014

New Real Madrid player James Rodriguez, from Colombia, holds his new shirt and poses for photographers during his official presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, after signing for Real Madrid. Real Madrid have signed Rodriguez from Monaco on a six-year contract. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Knowing how to judge James Rodriguez's first season in Spain will be difficult.

On the one hand, there's his pretty big price tag.

Real Madrid paid Monaco £63 million for the Colombian, as reported by The Guardian, and a fee that high should dictate that the player is more than special.

According to Transfermarkt, only Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have cost more.

However, while it's completely fair to judge players who cost more than the majority of most clubs’ squads, it is also true that an inflated market and a variety of other factors have forced clubs across the globe into paying more than face value to make sure they get their man.

For example, the money Madrid spent on James isn't purely for his performances on the pitch—although they will be a necessity, too.

It is also for his image.

Rumours spread that Real Madrid shirts carrying James' name had sold 345,000 within 48 hours of his arrival in the Spanish capital, only for Adidas to later say that figure was exaggerated and based on 900 sold in the official club shop, as reported by Robin Cottle in the Daily Mail

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

MADRID - JULY 2:  David Beckham is presented to the press at the Real Madrid press conference announcing his signing to Real Madrid on July 2, 2003 at the Pabellon Raimundo Saporta, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

That point still stands, though: Madrid, to an extent, expect James to make them merchandising and advertising profits, particularly on the back of a brilliant World Cup.

This has been a common theme since they signed David Beckham, with the same justification behind the money paid in the transfers of Ronaldo and Bale from Manchester United and Tottenham, respectively.

Florentino Perez was quite blatant about pandering to Colombia during the player's presentation, even calling on the Colombian Ambassador for Spain to give a rousing, patriotic speech, which would have appeased the Colombian fans present at the Bernabeu.

With little top-level experience behind him in comparison to others, having played in Portugal and France previously, James is unlikely to assume the role of main man in a team of Galacticos in his first season.

He clearly benefitted from Radamel Falcao’s absence at the World Cup, which allowed him to be his nation’s star. But at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo and Bale will still be expected to be top dogs.

Madrid's new superstar needs to get off on the right foot with the club's fans and adapt to a new league, a new team and a new life.

Not that performances won't be important: If James doesn't score or create a certain amount of goals, questions will be asked.

And judging by his performances in Brazil—which included exquisite goals against Japan and Uruguay—moments of brilliance will surely rear their head throughout the course of the season.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JULY 04:  James Rodriguez of Colombia celebrates scoring his team's first goal on a penalty kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between Brazil and Colombia at Castelao on July 4, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

LILLE, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 03:  James David Rodriguez Rubio of Monaco (C) is challenged by Antonio Mavuba of Lille (L) during the French Ligue 1 match between OSC Lille and AS Monaco at the Grand Stade Metropole Villeneuve-d'Ascq on November 3, 2013 in Lill
Harry Engels/Getty Images

However, he might not always shine.

Last season, while playing for Monaco, Claudio Ranieri dropped the 23-year-old due to a problem with his mentality and his defensive work, per ESPNFC's Ian Holyman: "For James Rodriguez, it’s a problem of mentality. He thinks like an attacker, but he has to defend too. Seeing that he’s not playing, he will understand. But he knows [already]."

Ranieri compared the situation with that of Argentinian winger Lucas Ocampos, who endured a similar period of adaptation to the Italian’s style.

"It’s the same problem that Ocampos had last season," Ranieri said. "He defends a lot more now."

While in the glare of a Hollywood setting at Madrid, James might try harder to impress; dips in performance are to be anticipated.

If he can combine moments of brilliance with a hint of Angel Di Maria's energy and show that he fits into Carlo Ancelotti's style of play, James Rodriguez's first season at Madrid should be considered a success—forget the price tag.

La Liga or the Champions League would go down well too, or Florentino Perez may be scouring the shop for new toys in 12 months' time.