Real Madrid have sent a clear warning message to James Rodriguez with the signing of Dani Ceballos. The Real Betis midfielder will sign a six-year deal with Los Blancos, joining a club where there's already an excess of midfielders. And Zinedine Zidane, the Madrid coach, has made it clear for a while that there's no room for James.
The Colombian international knows that if he remains at the Santiago Bernabeu, his options of regular football are limited, even less than last season. His only alternative is to find a team willing to pay the 75 million euros that the club want for him.
Zidane now has nine options for three central midfield positions -- some of which can play further forward. James is the last on French coach's behind Isco, Casemiro, Kovacic, Kroos, Modric, Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente and Ceballos.
Zidane has asked the club for incomings and outgoings to be sorted soon, before the team return for pre-season on Monday. But it looks increasingly like the outgoings will have to wait -- and return for training with their team-mates next week.
The problem is Flornetino Perez's selling strategy, which clashes with his coach's. The president obviously wants to make as much money as possible and his first rule is that you don't give the impression you want to sell the player, as is the case with James. The Colombian doesn't have a place at Real Madrid, but the club are giving off the idea that it's the player who is pushing to leave and therefore demanding huge sums of money.
So far, there have been know bites. Because everyone knows Madrid's position. None of the potential clubs who would be keen on James are ready to get into a bidding war. Jorge Mendes has been looking for options, calling Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Liverpool, Inter, Juventus and Manchester City, but none will pay the 75 million euros Madrid want.
Zidane's happy that Alvaro Morata's move to Manchester United did not go through, but he's in a rush to sell James -- and he's made that clear to Perez.