Former Bayern Munich striker Giovane Elber predicts that Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez will be a success at the German giants, but issued a warning to the Colombian to not expect to walk into the starting side.
James has joined the Bundesliga champions in a two-year loan deal, which will see him reunite with his former Real manager Carlo Ancelotti for the 2017-18 season. He made his debut in a 2-0 preseason friendly win against Werder Bremen on Saturday.
But Brazil’s Elber, who scored 92 league goals at Bayern between 1997 and 2003, says James may again need to be patient again after being frustrated by limited opportunities in Spain.
“There’s no guarantee that he will start,” Elber told ESPN FC at the Allianz Junior Football Camp Malaysia League final, near Kuala Lumpur.
“No one is guaranteed a starting position at Bayern, apart from maybe [Jurgen] Klinsmann some time ago.
“Like Real Madrid, there are a lot of stars at Bayern. The coach will just let the best players play.”
Ancelotti was James’ manager in his first season at Real Madrid after the 2014 World Cup where he won the Golden Boot with six goals. Elber says his familiarity with the veteran Italian manager will help his transition to the Bundesliga.
Under Zinedine Zidane, James made only 22 appearances in La Liga last season and was left out of the 18-man Real squad for June’s UEFA Champions League final against Juventus.
“I think he will do very well because he knows Ancelotti from Real Madrid,” Elber said. “At Madrid, he didn’t real have a chance to play. But now he has the opportunity, he should do well, and it will also help the younger players.
“He has to merge with the team because at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. For a solo player, it is very difficult, so he must work hard to become part of the team.”
The 26-year-old will join Bayern on their preseason tour of Asia, with matches against Arsenal (July 19) and AC Milan (July 22) before games against Chelsea and Inter Milan in the International Challenge Cup in Singapore the following week.
“I am looking forward to seeing him play, especially with Bayern stars like [Robert] Lewandowski and [Franck] Ribery,” Elber said.
“Just like Real Madrid, the pressure will be there from the start at Bayern. But he can handle that.”
Elber, 44, won four Bundesliga titles and the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League with Bayern. He missed the 1999 Champions League final when Manchester United came from behind to beat the Germans 2-1 in Barcelona, due to a season-ending knee injury.
On the international stage, Elber won only 14 caps for Brazil in the face of stiff competition up front, scoring seven goals. He was one of the stars of the 1991 World Youth Championship, and was a member of the Brazil side who lost to Carlos Queiroz’s Portugal on penalties in the final.
Jason Dasey is ESPN FC Senior Editor in Singapore. An ex-World Cup & EPL host, he has also been a CNN and BBC broadcaster. Twitter: @JasonDasey.