Colombia chief 'not surprised' by James Rodriguez struggles at Real
Colombian Football Federation technical director Francisco "Pacho" Maturana believes his country's biggest star, James Rodriguez, has had limited opportunities at Real Madrid the past couple of seasons because he has not been able to force his way into its "defined structure."
James, who has made 16 appearances in all competitions this season and started just nine times, recently said he had offers from other clubs and that he was considering leaving Real in the winter transfer market.
Maturana told Cadena Ser radio: "I'm not surprised that James is playing so little.
"Real Madrid is a team that has a defined structure where he has struggled to find a space."
The Colombia international did not feature in Real's 4-2 extra-time win over Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup final on Dec. 18 and told reporters after the game he was considering a move away from the Bernabeu in January.
Maturana felt that the 25-year-old winger made the wrong call to air his frustrations over his lack of playing time right after Real lifted their second Club World Cup.
He said: "It wasn't a time for a confrontation, it was a time to embrace one another and celebrate what they had achieved."
James, who joined Real for €80 million shortly after winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup, has had Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio ahead of him in the pecking order.
He shone in his first season at Real under coach Carlo Ancelotti, starting in 46 games in all competitions and scoring 17 times and setting up 17 other goals.
After Rafa Benitez replaced Ancelotti at the helm, James saw his playing time drastically cut.
In the 2015-16 campaign, when Benitez and his replacement Zinedine Zidane coached the team, the South American made just 21 starts in all competitions.
He scored eight goals and created 10 more for his teammates with a thigh injury also limiting his playing time.
Maturana, who had brief coaching stints at Real Valladolid and Atletico Madrid in Spain, does not blame Zidane for James' limited minutes.
"A coach has a duty with success and not with individuals," Maturana, Colombia's coach at the 1994 World Cup, said. "He is nevertheless a player that can decide a game at any time."
Rodriguez, under contract with Real until June 2020, was the subject of transfer speculation in the summer but stayed put.
He has a buyout clause set at €500m (£421.9m).
"James will decide his path and I don't think it's up to me to say what he should do," Maturana said.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.