James Rodriguez cut the figure of a man who knew it was his final home game when he was replaced by Alvaro Morata during Real Madrid’s 4-1 victory over Sevilla.
Madrid took another step closer to La Liga title with a thumping victory – a Cristiano Ronaldo stunner the pick of the bunch – but while Rodriguez might well finish the season as a Spanish and European champion, they’re likely to be his final honours as a Madridista after a mixed spell since his big-money arrival from Monaco in 2014.
Rodriguez was withdrawn by Zinedine Zidane in the second half and, on his way off the Bernabeu pitch, paused near the centre circle to applaud all four stands of Real Madrid supporters.
The 75,000 or so in attendance, gradually recognising the significance of the moment for the Colombian star, gave him a warm, standing ovation. Rodriguez then trudged rather solemnly towards the touchline.
Earlier this week, a well-known journalist for Colombian National Radio Station RNC reported that Manchester United had agreed a deal in principle with Rodriguez, who has grown frustrated with his lack of gametime at Madrid this season.
Antonia Casale, director of Colombian show En La Jugada, claimed that James’ agent Jorge Mendes (also José Mourihno’s agent) had met with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to discuss the move, but added that no deal would be officially completed until after Madrid’s Champions League final with Juventus.
United fans will doubtless be interested to see Rodriguez has now seemingly bid farewell to the home fans in Madrid. Whether it’s to United or elsewhere, it’s apparent that the 25-year-old will be departing Madrid in the summer.
However, teammate Nacho does not believe team-mate James Rodriguez has said goodbye to Real Madrid after applauding the entire Santiago Bernabeu.
“The ovation for James was very nice,” Nacho said, having scored and assisted another as Madrid stayed level on points with leaders Barcelona.
“The whole stadium has applauded him, he’s a great player and I don’t think it’s a goodbye.”
James, 25, is desperate for regular football, having struggled to cement a spot in Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI.
Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who faces an uncertain future himself, added: “James has his contract and, as always, he is working in a professional manner.
“We love him as a person and admire him as a player. He is motivated and always ready to play.”