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Why James Rodriguez and Real Madrid need split: But where? And what price?

COMMENT: Yawning. Moaning. Fighting with staff. Speeding fines. Missed court dates. Snubbed surgery...

Yeah, we get it. It just doesn't matter. James Rodriguez still has the support of the president, Florentino Perez, at Real Madrid - but that's it.

Zinedine Zidane made it clear where they stood in Trondheim last week. The coach went with the rookie, Marcos Asensio. So leaving James on the bench, where he was caught yawning - and arguing with fitness coaches. The Colombian did eventually get on the pitch to help Real lift the UEFA Super Cup, but Zidane's message was clear - and not just to the player.

Inside the boardroom, Florentino has been James' biggest supporter. And is now fast becoming the only one. Concerned insiders told Tribalfootball.com after the Trondheim triumph that the "James issue" could be the breaking point between coach and president "if something isn't done" in the next three weeks. And that "something" must be his sale.

Inside the Real locker room, they understand hierarchies. How could you not with Cristiano Ronaldo strutting around? The 'Zidanes y Pavones' and all that. But the coach knows the longer Florentino turns a blind eye to James' antics, the bigger problem it will become for him. Why? Well, just take a step back and consider where James stands in Zidane's thinking at the minute...

We're talking about a player, granted an €80 million player, who can't get a game ahead of Asensio nor Lucas Vazquez. That's where he is rated by Zizou. So how would the club react if another name, considered in the same rung of players, had the cops chase him all the way to the gates of the training ground? Only then, to ignore his court date? And this after the same court had rearranged their schedule to accommodate Real's Champions League commitments.

Or what if this player rejected the club's request to undergo surgery to fix a shoulder problem, instead being snapped partying with family and friends in Miami? And what about just this week? Okay, the yawning perhaps can be excused. But James also was spotted in a heated exchange with fitness coach Antonio Pintus before Zidane threw him on in the second-half. How long do you think Lucas Vazquez or Asensio would last with such a rap sheet?

And this is the concern for Zidane. The Frenchman can handle James being part of the squad. No problem. Where it becomes an issue is the player's constant antics. The distractions. And the blind eye shown by those off the pitch - particularly the president.

Zidane has make it clear to Florentino: James is not in my plans. It's now in the president's hands about what to do with his No10.

PSG remain in the mix. And having closed a deal for Jese, the communication lines remain open. Juventus have also made enquiries, though this was before their €94 million commitment for Gonzalo Higuain. In England, Manchester United have been in touch, though the player Jose Mourinho now covets at Real isn't James, but young French centre-half, Raphael Varane.

In any case, if James is to be sold, London would be his preferred destination. Wife Daniela's brother, David Ospina, remains on the books at Arsenal and the opportunity to live closer to eachother does appeal.

For the moment, Arsenal haven't thrown their hat in the ring. But West Ham have. And they're willing to bid big. Though not to the €80 million Florentino has told Jorge Mendes, James ' agent, to demand from any club wanting to do business.

But the problem for Mendes isn't just the price, but James' fast fading reputation. The 2014 World Cup is now a memory. The days with Carlo Ancelotti are gone. He's barely clinging on at the moment. United offered €40 million for the midfielder last month, believing it was a good price for the player. A few weeks later, they were committing to treble that fee to take Paul Pogba away from Juventus. They had the spending power to go higher, but weren't going to risk it on James.

We all know about the player. We read about him every week. But the story never has anything to do with his football. A memorable goal or assist? When was the last time he made headlines for that?

At 25 and captain of his country, James still has his best years ahead of him. But they won't be with Real. Not under the present coach. And not with a president constantly indulging him.

For all parties, there needs to be a split. And for one, a bit of growing up to do. Living off that World Cup can only last so long...


It was an intervention. Zinedine Zidane had to act. Raphael Varane was talking his way out of Real Madrid.

Varane admitted at the beginning of preseason that clear-the-air talks had been held with his coach. The Frenchman was upset. He couldn't see a way past Zizou's first-choice centre-half pairing of Pepe and Sergio Ramos. And he knew, with Jose Mourinho taking control at Manchester United, there was a door open at Old Trafford.

However, Zidane, before they jetted off to Canada, had managed to talk his countryman down from the ledge. But...

It could all kick off again this week. The day, the very day, that in Madrid we're hearing Real will reward Pepe with a new contract this week, it's splashed across the back pages in England that Mourinho will try again for Varane before the market shuts.

And it will cause Varane to wobble. At United, he'd join as a first-choice, playing for a manager he rejected Sir Alex Ferguson for when he was leaving Lens. In contrast, at Real he could be stuck behind Pepe and Ramos for another two seasons.

Zidane has talked him around once this season. With the ink still drying on Pepe's new deal, will he be able to do it again?

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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