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James Rodriguez: New job, bright future, says Heynckes

Xinhua,December 15, 2017 Adjust font size:

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is convinced that James Rodriguez will play a vital role in the future for the 2017 German champions.

"He is improving step by step and is going to be more and more important for us," the 72-year-old commented.

James, Heynckes reports, turns up for training with a broad smile on his face.

Things have significantly changed when it comes to the 26-year-old striker and his value for the Bavarian side. Only a few weeks ago James' future in Munich seemed uncertain as the Columbian was regarded to be a leftover from former coach Carlo Ancelotti, struggling finding the right place in the Bavarian squad.

How is it that James developed to one of the key performers for the 2013 treble winner?

First of all, Heynckes invented a new job profile for the former Real Madrid striker. In Heynckes' 4-3-3 system, James changed from the flanks to the midfield's center. "He plays a position he never played before. In Madrid he was either operating along the left or the right wing," the 1974 World Champion explained.

Since Heynckes took over in the beginning of October 2017, James is one of the team's two midfield-center performers just above the back row supplying passes for the front row.

"He is feeling extremely comfortable with that," Heynckes emphasized. According to Heynckes James is "far from a Robben or a Ribery; he is no sprinter," but rather a team player with outstanding running abilities.

With an average of 11.8 kilometers per game, James is one of the Bundesliga's best performers. In beating Cologne (1-0) last Wednesday, James made his 12th appearance in Bayern's starting eleven this season.

"Some might be surprised, but James is a running machine with a great heart for the team's needs. He does not mind defensive work, is a positive factor, and addresses my demands of how a team should work," Heynckes stressed.

When it comes to James, Heynckes enhanced his reputation for being an empathically skilled developer. "It helps that we speak the same language. No matter if we talk about tactics or the little things of daily life you normally can't discuss when you speak different languages. Together we made a significant step forward. Call it shared progress," Heynckes said.

Heynckes can rely on a significant Spanish history as the 1972 European Champion worked for Athletic Bilbao (1992 - 1994/2001 - 2003), CD Tenerife (1995 - 1997) and Real Madrid (1997 - 1998). In 1998, Heynckes won the Champions League with Real.

Bayern's coach said several times that it would take time for foreign players to adjust to a new league and a new country. "If you come from abroad, especially from South America, many things affect your performance such as the weather, the food, the new team, a new style of football and many more things," Heynckes commented.

How does James feel about the changes and his coaches predictions?

"Yes, I am happy and pleased with the progress. Everything here is much more easy-going in comparison to other countries," James told Spanish media. James said his regular appearances are one of the main reasons for his improvement. "We speak the same language, and I am happy to be able to help the team as I feel the support of our coach."

The latest victory in the Champions League over Paris St Germain (3-1) "gave us a lot of confidence. We proved we can be a hard competitor for other big European teams, we don't have to hide," he added.

"He can be a threat to other teams when it comes to goal scoring. Maybe we do not yet see too much of that at present, but I am sure he will get better and better at scoring goals," Bayern's coach commented.

James has so far scored two goals and delivered four assists.

More are to come, James promised, who joined Bayern last summer. As of now, he has two more years left for goal scoring in Munich's red shirt. He is in Germany on loan for 13 million euro, but the Bavarian side can buy James in summer 2019 for 42 million.

At least at the moment, there is no reason why James should not provide Bayern with many more happy years of service. Enditem