Monaco manager Claudio Ranieri says that €45 million attacking midfielder James Rodriguez is not in the starting eleven because he does not defend well enough.
Rodriguez, 22, was one of the marquee names to join the principality club this summer but he has started just two games in Ligue 1 so far.
Radamel Falcao is the league’s top scorer and Joao Moutinho is making a mark after recovering from injury. But, instead of picking up where he left off at Portuguese league winners Porto, Rodriguez has surprisingly been out of favour.
Signalling that the Colombian is likely to be on the bench again against Saint-Etienne on Saturday, Ranieri confirmed that he has not been left out because of injury.
“For James Rodriguez, it’s a problem of mentality,” the former Chelsea coach told reporters. “He thinks like an attacker, but he has to defend too. Seeing that he’s not playing, he will understand. But he knows [already].”
Ranieri compared the situation with that of Argentine winger Lucas Ocampos, who endured a similar period of adaptation to the Italian’s style.
“It’s the same problem that Ocampos had last season,” Ranieri said. “He defends a lot more now.”
After criticising Rodriguez’s defensive workrate on the wing, however, Ranieri then indicated that he could force his way into the team in a more central role.
“James is a great player,” he said. “Something happens when he has the ball. He can play on the wing but I think that he is better behind Falcao.”
League leaders Monaco, who drew at Reims last weekend, could be without Jeremy Toulalan, Layvin Kurzawa and Emmanuel Riviere for the visit seventh-placed Saint-Etienne.