James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez Reuters

Jupp Heynckes, the boss of Bayern Munich is convinced that in the future Colombian star James Rodriguez will play an important role for the German club.

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

Heynckes said that the 26-year-old James turns up for training with a broad smile on his face.

Things have significantly changed when it comes to the former Real Madrid ace and his value for the Bavarian side. Only a few weeks ago James' future in Munich seemed uncertain as the Colombian was regarded to be a leftover from former coach Carlo Ancelotti, struggling to find the right place in the Bavarian squad.

How is it that James developed to be 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 centre. "He plays a position he never played before. In Madrid he was either operating along the left or the right wing," the 1974 World Cup winner explained.

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

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

With an average of 11.8 kilometres 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 a 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 he 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. The manager also said, "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."

So far, the attacking midfielder James scored two goals and delivered four assists. He is in Germany on loan for 13 million euros ($15.3 million), but the Bavarian side can buy James in summer 2019 for 42 million euros ($49.5 million).

(With inputs from IANS)