James Rodriguez was left feeling ‘a little depressed’ by his departure from Real Madrid, according to Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes.
A big-money signing following the 2014 World Cup, James quickly fell out of favour in the Spanish capital, where he found himself behind the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco.
He made just 22 La Liga appearances for Zinedine Zidane’s men last season, before moving to Bayern on loan over the summer.
And with the two clubs set to go head-to-head in the Champions League this week, current coach Heynckes admits it took a while to turn around the midfielder’s fragile confidence following his disappointment at the Bernabeu.
‘He was a little depressed,’ he said. ‘I took care of him, I had lots of talks with him, and step by step he found confidence. He is more relaxed within the team.
‘Our fans here, when they see him play football, they enjoy it. Above all he is a player who has fantasy, has an overview.
‘He is more open-minded and gives the impression he feels well and has settled in Munich. I think this is most fundamental.’
Rodriguez initially made a slow start to his time in Germany, failing to dislodge Bayern stalwarts Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery.
But under the careful tutelage of legendary coach Heynckes, who has placed a nurturing role in his transition to life in the Bundesliga, positive strides have been taken in recent months.
Slowly but surely, the Colombian has started to come good at the Allianz Arena, where he has scored six and assisted 10 goals in 21 appearances to date.
James and Bayern face Real Madrid on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, with the 26-year-old believed to be battling team-mate Corentin Tolisso for a place in midfield.
Ordinarily, domestic loan rules dictate that loan players cannot face their parent clubs, but no such policy exists in UEFA competitions. It means the midfielder has the perfect chance for revenge against Real this week.
Although James’ two-year loan with the Bundesliga champions expires next summer, attention has already turned to securing a permanent move despite reported interest from the Premier League.
Earlier this month, Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed his intention to activate the £37million purchase option included as part of James’ loan deal.
‘It was been a wonderful operation,’ Rummenigge said.
‘His adaptation has been good and he is helping the team a lot. We’re very happy with James.
‘We have a purchase option and we’re going to trigger it.’
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