James Rodriguez 'risking' World Cup spot at Real Madrid - Carlos Bacca
James Rodriguez's Colombia teammate Carlos Bacca says the need to play regular football in a World Cup year could push his countryman towards leaving Real Madrid this summer.
James' future is uncertain having been left out completely for Madrid's 4-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in Cardiff, a few weeks after having appeared to say goodbye to the Bernabeu when substituted in a La Liga win over Sevilla.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain have all been reported as potential destinations for the 25-year-old, who scored 11 goals and provided 13 assists across 33 appearances (18 starts) for Madrid in 2016-17.
It was six goals for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil which led Madrid to pay €80 million to Monaco for James' services three years back, and Bacca told Colombian outlet Win Sports that while it was difficult to leave Madrid it was vital for his colleague to be ready for the tournament in Russia next summer.
"These are decisions he needs to take himself, because he is also risking the World Cup," Bacca said. "James is at the best club in the world, which is Real Madrid, there is no other like it. Being there already he will fight for a place as he has been doing day-to-day. It is not easy to take the decision to leave Madrid and join another club."
James starred in Colombia's end-of-season friendlies, including a fine goal and assist in a 4-0 win over Cameroon played at Getafe's stadium in Madrid. Bacca said that all the speculation over his future had not affected his teammates' attitude or performances.
"He must keep a cool head, as he is doing, as he is a professional," the former Sevilla centre-forward said. "He was very relaxed with the national team, and you could see the results, the issue did not affect him so much. What he wants to do is to work, to play, and to reach the World Cup in the best shape possible."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan