Zinedine Zidane has refused to confirm whether he would let James Rodriguez leaving Real Madrid during the coming January transfer window should the Colombian outcast force his exit. However, the French boss admitted that Los Blancos have a "problem" with the 25-year-old playmaker after he was an unused substitute during the weekend draw with Barcelona in the first El Clasico of the season.
James moved to the Santiago Bernabeu from Monaco in a deal worth €80m (£67.5m, $85.9m) after being one of the best players of the World Cup 2014. The Colombian international enjoyed an impressive first campaign at Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti but has failed to keep that level under Zidane.
Last summer James was consequently linked with the likes of Inter Milan, Arsenal and Manchester United but reports in Spain said that he decided to stay at the Champions League winners to fight for his role.
However, the situation has even worsened during the start of the 2016-2017 season after having fallen out of favour behind the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Mateo Kocavic. James has only started three games in La Liga this term despite the fact Real Madrid have been missing Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale in several matches due to injury.
Il Corriere Dello Sport revealed last month the Juventus were ready to take advantage of his exile to request his loan from Real Madrid during the January transfer window, with Arsenal and Manchester City also monitoring the situation.
Speculation has increased even further in recent days after Zidane snubbed the player during the draw against Barcelona, leaving the Colombian on the bench during the full 90 minutes to use instead Asensio, Casemiro and young Mariano as Los Blancos were trying to score a winner.
"I admire James. He trains and is available to the group and is part of the group. I have the same deal with James as with everyone," Zidane said in the press conference ahead of the Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund. "When you play less you can think about leaving, but he is a Real Madrid player and his an important player for me. It's true that it's a problem because he wants to play more, and lately he is not playing much but for me he's important because I'm going to need the whole group".
But was asked if he would let James leave if the player asked, he said: "Sorry but I would rather not answer the question, as I would have to say nonsense, and I don't want to."