James Rodríguez To Qatar: A Good Opportunity Or A Bad Decision?

The now-former player of Everton of England ends eleven years of career in European soccer and arrives at the age of 30 in Qatar.

James Rodríguez on his arrival at the Al Rayyan club

James' career has ended up taking an unexpected leap for many, reaching a football that although it grows more and more, is still far from the level of the big leagues. Photo: TW-AlrayyanSC

LatinAmerican Post | Nicolás Donoso

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Leer en español: James Rodríguez a Qatar: ¿una oportunidad para volver a reencontrarse o una mala decisión?

The last match that James Rodríguez officially played was on May 16, a match valid for the Premier League and which ended with a defeat against Sheffield United. After that commitment, a series of events occurred that did not favor the Colombian too much: Carlo Ancelotti, the coach who directed him at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and recently at Everton, left the English team to return to the Merengue team, and the Spanish Rafa Benítez became their new technical director (they agreed at Real Madrid). After not having minutes at the start of this new season, he looked for an exit to another team from the old continent, but none came to fruition, and James was trapped and without playing both at the club and national team level. With Reinaldo Rueda as DT of the coffee team, James was not considered in any of the most recent qualifying dates heading to Qatar 2022 or for the last Copa América.

Well, after all the complications that the player had in recent months and the difficult time he is going through in his career, it has been confirmed that James puts an end to eleven consecutive years in which he played in European soccer for undertaking a new, and for many controversial, journey by signing for Al Rayyan of Qatar, a team that plays in the highest division of his country, which has won eight local leagues and is currently led by French coach Laurent Blanc.

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There, in addition to meeting a renowned coach, James will play with a renowned Algerian soccer player, Yacine Brahimi. Brahimi, like him, knew how to shine in his best moments with Porto de Portugal. He has also defended the shirts of Rennes of France and Granada of Spain, being selected 56 times Algerian and standing out with a great performance in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with his team (he reached the round of 16), where precisely James Rodríguez excelled and Colombia reached the quarterfinals.


More than a decade in European soccer with highs and lows

His tour of Europe started prematurely, making himself known with just 19 years at Porto, a table where he played 108 commitments, contributing with 32 goals and 41 assists, winning six titles, among which three leagues and a UEFA Europa League stand out and coinciding in that squad with Radamel Falcao and midfielder Freddy Guarín. This would lead him to sign for Monaco, and although he was only in the Principality for one season, he once again shared a team with Radamel Falcao and his numbers were positive, achieving 10 goals and 14 assists in 38 games.

Thanks to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he took a big leap in his career and signed with Real Madrid. His first years in the merengue team were quite positive, both individually and in groups, but after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti and the arrivals of Rafa Benítez and Zinedine Zidane, the Colombian gradually lost prominence, until he reunited again. with the Italian DT in Germany, to play for Bayern Munich and being one of the highest level midfielders in the Bundesliga (he spent two seasons in which he won three titles).

After a return to Real Madrid where he barely had minutes in the 2019-2020 season, the lives of the Cucuteño and Carlo Ancelotti came together again in England, and despite suffering some injuries, it seemed that James's career was making sense again , since in 23 games played by the Premier League he managed to score six times and assist in another five. However, the departure of Ancelotti from Everton and the arrival of Rafa Benítez to the club, ended up stopping the rebound he was having .

Opportunity to meet again or a bad decision?

Without stepping on a pitch in more than four months, without playing for the Colombian national team for almost a year and with 30 years of age last July, James's career has ended up taking an unexpected leap for many, reaching soccer that although it grows more and more (the Qatari national team won the 2019 Asian Cup and was a semifinalist in the 2021 Gold Cup), it is still far from the level of the major European leagues in which it played, and is unknown territory for many and many.

That said, it could be considered a very bad decision for the player to emigrate to Qatari soccer due to its level of competitiveness, its remoteness, and many other factors. However, Qatar can be considered as a new opportunity for James to feel important again, regain the level he is used to having, and can return to the Colombian team, which is currently fighting for a place precisely to qualify for the World Cup Qatar 2022.

Because just as Juan Fernando Quintero decided to go to Chinese soccer and was one of the figures in Colombia's triumph against Chile in the Qualifiers, James Rodríguez can perfectly love his soccer again, with his left foot and with the level he once showed playing this time in Qatar. And who knows, if he gets to add many minutes and stand out in the Middle East, he can return to the Colombian payroll and return to European soccer. Whether it was a good or bad decision, only time will tell.