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Real Madrid Have 'Exaggerated Expectations' in James Rodriguez Talks, Say Napoli

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2019

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28: James Rodriguez of Colombia looks on during the Copa America Brazil 2019 quarterfinal match between Colombia and Chile at Arena Corinthians on June 28, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has said Real Madrid's "exaggerated expectations" are holding up James Rodriguez's transfer to the Partenopei, but the Colombia international wants to join up with Carlo Ancelotti in Italy. 

De Laurentiis spoke to Corriere Dello Sport (h/t Football Italia) and praised James' media-friendliness but said Los Blancos have to be more reasonable with their requests to make the deal work:

"He is the player who, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, is the most media-friendly. Carlo Ancelotti really likes him, and we are waiting for a more reasonable request.

"The stumbling block is represented by Real Madrid, who have in our view exaggerated expectations. But James wants to join Napoli."

The 27-year-old is expected to join Napoli at some point this summer and has already been warned not to take Diego Maradona's legendary No. 10 shirt:

B/R Football @brfootball

James Rodriguez should stay away from Napoli's No. 10 shirt 😂 https://t.co/SPL4tp7dQK

James spent the last two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich after falling out of favour at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu under manager Zinedine Zidane. The latter returned to the club during the 2018-19 campaign, meaning there is likely no future for the Colombian in the Spanish capital.

Bayern didn't use their option to sign him permanently, even though James enjoyed a solid spell in the Bundesliga:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

James Rodriguez: Made more key passes per 90 (4) than any other player in the Bundesliga last season (10+ apps) For more player stats -- https://t.co/KXnl0pRZKo https://t.co/bM4znevUuM

Here are some of his highlights:

The attacking midfielder has always been at his best as the main star in a team, with his top performances coming for Colombia's national team and during his one-year spell at AS Monaco.

He also worked well under Ancelotti in Madrid and Munich. ESPN FC analysts debated whether the Italian coach can get the best out of the playmaker in Naples:

Longtime Napoli star Marek Hamsik left for the Chinese Super League in February, and James should be a good fit in Naples in his role. A partnership with rising star Fabian Ruiz could give the Partenopei the best creative duo in Serie A, playing behind the prolific pair of Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik.

Napoli have played second fiddle to Juventus in Serie A the last few seasons, but the addition of James could help bridge the gap between the two teams.

The Bianconeri remain the dominant force in Serie A, but key players like Giorgio Chiellini and Cristiano Ronaldo aren't getting any younger―both are 34 years old―and the team said goodbye to the retired Andrea Barzagli in summer.

They did sign the likes of Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and Merih Demiral, and could soon add Ajax starlet Matthijs de Ligt, according to Fabrizio Romano of Sky Italia (h/t ESPN FC). 

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