A “happy” Zinedine Zidane is glad to have James Rodriguez back at Real Madrid ahead of Saturday’s La Liga opener at Celta Vigo.
Throughout the entire summer, James’ future has been clouded in doubt since returning to Real. He ultimately opted to not join Bayern Munich on a permanent deal upon spending the past two years on loan in Germany.
The 28-year-old’s stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, was expected to be a brief one. Previously, he struggled to gain favour under Zidane before the Frenchman sent him off to Bayern.
And it appeared that Zidane’s opinion of James hadn’t changed, with the playmaker not featuring even once during pre-season. It prompted talk of a move to Napoli or city rivals Atletico Madrid.
However, the Real boss hinted earlier this week that both James and fellow outcast Gareth Bale could remain at the club after all. He insisted to reporters that the pair have “100 per cent” of his backing.
And now the 47-year-old has declared James ready for Los Blancos’ trip to Celta Vigo this weekend.
“We want to start now. We are thinking about the new La Liga season and we are happy,” said Zidane, according to Marca.
“James is fit and I’m glad he is part of the team.”
It’s been a big summer for Real in the transfer market after spending a club-record €305m on six new players in Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo Goes and Alberto Soro.
But the Spanish giants’ apparent failure to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United will probably be a sore spot for Zidane.
“I’m happy with my players,” insisted the Real manager.
“And I’m focussed, like they are, on the first game of the season.”
Zidane will have to make do without the injured Marco Asensio and Rodrigo for Saturday’s league game. Brahim Diaz and Mendy are also doubts, while Dani Carvajal is suspended.
The match between Celta and Real will begin at 17:00 (CET).