james rodriguez
James Rodriguez's performance against Ecuador proved he deserves a starting slot for Real Madrid Getty Images

Real Madrid star James Rodriguez has sent a new message to manager Zinedine Zidane ahead of the coming trip to Barcelona on Saturday (2 April) after an excelling performance for Colombia during a 3-1 victory over Ecuador in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday (29 March) night. Speaking after the game, the 24-year-old player claimed that he just needed to play regularly to prove his worth after finding the French boss had dropped him to the bench in recent games.

James enjoyed an impressive debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu under Carlo Ancelotti following his big money move from Monaco in the summer of 2014. However, the Colombian international has failed to replicate that form during the current season both under former manager Rafa Benitez and now Zidane.

Reports in Spain have claimed in recent weeks that Real Madrid officials are ready to part ways with him and Isco in the summer amid questions over his commitment to the team. Zidane has failed to quash those rumours in recent weeks after leaving him on the bench in the last three La Liga games against Celta Vigo, Las Palmas and Sevilla.

James has responded to the Real Madrid boss with two impressive performances for Colombia during the international break. He scored one goal and provided further one in the 3-2 victory over Bolivia last week, while replicating a similar performance to lead his side to a victory over Ecuador on Tuesday night, failing to find the net but being arguably the best player on the pitch.

The Colombian captain, meanwhile, seized his post match interview with the local media to send a message to Zidane ahead of El Clasico against Barcelona.

Questioned about his excelling performances for Colombia amid the scrutiny at Real Madrid, he said as quoted by El Tiempo: "(I felt) very well. When one plays and when one have support is much easier. I just try to talk inside (the pitch). Outside, I always try to train (hard). I would have liked to scored but I am happy for the two games."

James's comments came just days after Colombian legend Tino Asprilla also questioned the treatment that Real Madrid and his manager are giving to his compatriot.

Asprilla then told Marca: "It's not that James performs better for Colombia than for Real Madrid, but that here in Colombia he gets the true importance that a player with his characteristics needs to be able to perform.

"At Real Madrid they are not giving him the importance he needs. He is a young kid, with so much talent, but James has not had the affection he needs at his club. When he had it with [Carlo] Ancelotti, the player showed his true value. This season he has not been able to show anything because they did not give him this special treatment that a player needs at his club."

Zidane, however, is still expected to overlook James for the trip to Barcelona as looks ready to stick with the same starting XI that saw Real Madrid beating Sevilla 4-0 just before the international break, with Casemiro holding the midfield behind Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to give more freedom to the BBC – Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – in the attack.