The Academy: James Rodriguez (Colombia / Porto)
Name: James Rodriguez
Place of Birth: Cucuta, Colombia
D.O.B: 12th July 1991
Position: Winger / CAM
Clubs: Envigado (Col), Banfield (Arg), Porto (Por)
The talk amongst Colombians in the run up to the U20 WC was all about how the new young starlet James Rodriquez would perform in the competition. It has been many years since Los Cafeteros could feel confident that they have a world class player in their ranks and James, as he’s commonly known in his home country, is one player who is very likely to tick that box in the coming years.
Colombia’s national team have been in the slumps since their golden age in the mid 90’s, gone are the days of Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla as South America’s forgotten international side are on the up. They look equipped to have a squad good enough to qualify for the next World Cup something they have failed to do since France 1998 so drafting in young talent is a priority for the senior side.
James is an example of the quality that can came out of Colombia. He began his career for Colombian club Envigado and scored 22 goals in 50 appearances eventually snapped up by Argentine side Banfield in 2008. While there he took his opportunity to stake a claim in the team when he scored soon after signing, 20 days to be precise, and never looked back. He became a permanent fixture in the starting eleven playing in every match of the Argentine 2009 Apertura campaign and attracted the attentions of Porto who signed him for a reported £4m. In Portugal he has had limited opportunities but he has been able shown his quality, he came into this U20 WC after scoring a hat trick in the 6-2 Portuguese cup final win over Vitoria Guimaraes.
He has a lovely left foot capable of whipping in a dangerous cross, picking out a through ball, or curling the ball into the top corner from a free-kick, he seems to have it all. That being said he can be very reliant on that left foot sometimes being reluctant to switch to his right and on occasion’s losing possession of the ball or not taking crossing /shooting opportunities because of that reason, he is still young so the hope is that any bad habits can be ironed out the more experience he gets.
His performances were exceptional for the U20’s; a confident boy who’s not afraid to take risks in attack, even if it does mean the left flank he normally sits in being exposed. He was a major reason behind the team’s success this summer; he played 5 matches scoring three goals and formed a good partnership with striker Luis Muriel and central midfielder Michael Ortega. In particular the three were on red hot form expressing themselves on the field with exciting attacking football in their opening game against U20 European champions France. A quarter finals exit against Mexico ended their quest for the youth cup.
James will be hoping for more club games when he returns to Porto this season and the manager will find it hard to ignore him if he continues to show the kind of form he produced at the U20 WC and the domestic cup final. He will improve a great deal as a player in Europe, Portugal especially while playing with a big side like Porto, the Champion’s League is almost a certainty for him year on year, he will want to impress on that big stage.