Out-of-favour Rodriguez can't exit Real

NOT A GREAT SEASON SO FAR: Rodriguez has been left out of manager Zidane's starting line-up.


    Aug 29, 2016

    Out-of-favour Rodriguez can't exit Real


    REAL Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane closed the exit door on Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez despite leaving the 2014 World Cup's top scorer on the bench once more for Real's 2-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.

    He has fallen down the pecking order at the Bernabeu since Zidane took charge in January with Madrid's latest sensation Marco Asensio joining the likes of Isco, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric ahead of him for a place in Real's congested midfield.

    However, Zidane insisted Rodriguez will remain in the Spanish capital beyond the transfer deadline on Wednesday with even the Premier League's cash-rich clubs unlikely to match the reported 80 million euros (S$122 million) Real paid for him after the World Cup two years ago.

    Rodriguez came on only for the final 21 minutes as Kroos' long-range effort 10 minutes from time salvaged all three points for the hosts despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema from the line-up through injury.

    "I thought James played well. It is not easy to come and have to make the difference," said Zidane.

    "He is going to stay here."

    Kroos' strike maintained Madrid's 14-match winning run in La Liga but victory disguised a sub-standard display.

    Without Ronaldo and Benzema, Gareth Bale failed to build on his fine start to the campaign with two goals in a 3-0 win at Real Sociedad to begin the season.

    However, Zidane highlighted the need to win even without shining, particularly with a two-week international break to come. "It is true that we didn't shine. In some games, we can't play as we want," he said. "Now, there are the international games and many players will leave but that is something we can't change."

    Zidane hailed his players' resolve to keep going until the final whistle despite being far from their best. "I am left with the fact the players believed until the end and we achieved what we wanted."