James Rodriguez is in contention to start for Real Madrid in their first game of the season away to Celta Vigo, 825 days after his last competitive appearance for Los Blancos.
The Colombian spent time on loan at Bayern Munich after initially struggling for opportunities at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu but is now an option once again for the club ahead of the team’s first game at Balaidos.
Zinedine Zidane has said that James is in good physical condition and will likely be part of the squad for the match in Galicia.
Los Blancos travel to Balaidos to take on Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon and come off the back of a poor pre-season with plenty of question marks hanging over the squad.
“We want to start now,” Zidane told the press. “We are thinking about the new LaLiga season and we are happy.
“James is fit and I’m glad he is part of the team.
Dani Carvajal is out of the match against Celta after picking up a suspension at the end of last season which will carry over to the new campaign.
“These are things I can’t do anything about,” Zidane went on. “It’s hard to accept, but we are going to prepare for things to include that change.”
In terms of transfers, Real Madrid have been linked with a move for Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, as well as Neymar. Gareth Bale was expected to leave the club but he remains as the new campaign begins.
“I’m happy with my players,” Zidane said. “And I’m focussed, like they are, on the first game of the season.
“Paul is a Manchester United player and you have to respect that.
“Neymar isn’t a Real Madrid player, and I am only concerned about those who are here.
“It seemed like Bale was going to leave, but he is here. I will count on him, just as I will with everyone else who is here.
“I hope that everyone in the team wants to make life difficult for me [in terms of team selection].
“The team is what it is, and this is the squad I have. The transfer window is open, and things can happen, but what matters now is Saturday’s game and the players that are here now.”
Real Madrid’s star signing was Eden Hazard and the new No.7 has pleased Zidane with his contribution.
“LaLiga is a different dynamic,” Zidane stated. “We are optimistic and will play to win.
“I am happy with Eden, and there are six new players who all count.
“Pre-season is over and we worked very well despite the results.
“What matters is competition and I’m happy with him and everyone else.”
Ahead of the new campaign, there is a lot of pessimism surrounding Real Madrid, though Zidane doesn’t think it’s anything new.
“It will always be like that at Real Madrid,” he said. “If you don’t win or play well.
“We need our fans, who have always been there for us. We want to play well and give them joy.
“I prefer to play well because winning is a consequence of that. One thing leads to another.”