Zinedine Zidane Reportedly 'Losing Patience' with James Rodriguez at Real Madrid

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2016

Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane shouts from the sideline during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs RC Deportivo La Coruna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 9, 2016.  AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN / AFP / GERARD JULIEN        (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane’s patience is already reportedly running out with Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, with the Colombia star said to be facing a battle to convince the new manager he can be a regular first-team player.

Alejandro Alcazar of Sport provided the report on Thursday and noted that Zidane "doesn’t even want to see a painting of James Rodriguez."

In the piece, Alcazar wrote the Frenchman has "realised James is not in condition to be an important player at Madrid," and even though every player is getting a fresh start under the new manager, "he’s beginning to feel as though he is fighting a losing battle with James."

According to Pablo Polo of Marca, with the attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo all secured of their places, Zidane will find himself with a straight choice between Isco and Rodriguez. Polo claims the latter will get a chance to impress in the match against Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 30:  James Rodriguez of Real Madrid CF looks on during the Real Madrid CF vs Real Sociedad as part of the Liga BBVA 2015-2016 at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 30, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Power Sport
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

This season has been a tough one for the Colombia star after shining in his debut term. Here’s a reminder of what a full-tilt Rodriguez can produce:

As noted by Ben Hayward of Goal.com, although Zidane has only been in charge for one game, he seems to be making decisive choices already in the managerial hot seat:

Rodriguez is the star player most likely under threat at the moment, especially with Alcazar claiming the attacker is currently "above his ideal weight"; his fondness for the Madrid nightlife and fast cars is also noted.

According to Fernando Baquero of Sport, Zidane was "shocked" by the fitness levels of the Real Madrid players, feeling as though they should be in much better shape at this point of the season. Again, Rodriguez is mentioned, with Baquero claiming he and Toni Kroos are the two players in the least desirable condition.

If Rodriguez is going to force his way into Zidane’s plans on a regular basis, then he must improve his form. While three goals and four assists in 10 La Liga appearances is not a bad return, the languid style in which Rodriguez operates has deteriorated to a slack approach; it was no surprise, therefore, when Isco was thrust into the team.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Aside from basic goals and assists—Isco has one and three, respectively—here’s how Real Madrid’s two creative stars fare in direct statistical comparison this season in La Liga:

Midfielder Comparison: Rodriguez, Isco
Appearances (Sub)7 (3)10 (4)
Shots per game1.51.5
Dribbles per game0.71.4
Passes per game4634.8
Key passes per game31.7
Passing accuracy87.4 %89.3 %

It’s such an important position for Real. The likes of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo carry the ball forward, thriving with space to burst into. But the antidote for breaking down well-organised sides is often an intricate midfielder who can find pockets and thread passes, qualities that Rodriguez has in abundance at his best.

Playing for a team like Real and a manager who was the finest attacking midfielder of his generation should be enough to galvanise Rodriguez out of his lull. Otherwise, it’s becoming increasingly apparent, as is the case at the majority of elite sides, a quality deputy will be ready to fill the position.