James Rodriguez is fit and raring to go for Bayern Munich again. - © imago/Belga
James Rodriguez is fit and raring to go for Bayern Munich again. - © imago/Belga

James Rodriguez is "motivated and totally focussed" says Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac

James Rodriguez is "motivated and totally focussed" as he seeks to earn himself a place in Bayern Munich's starting XI, the Bundesliga record champions' coach Niko Kovac has said.

The Colombia international excelled during the 2017/18 title-winning season — his first of a two-year loan from Real Madrid — contributing to 18 league goals (scoring seven) at an average of one every 92 minutes spread over 23 bountiful Bundesliga appearances.

Injury, a dip in form and competition for places from the likes of Thomas Müller in particular have limited James to just eight top-flight appearances this term.

Watch: James explained

However, after overcoming a knee injury that had sidelined him since Matchday 10, the 27-year-old former AS Monaco man is now chomping at the bit to pull on the famous red shirt in the Bundesliga once again.

"I see that he's motivated and totally focussed," Kovac, who gave James a long-awaited run-out in Bayern's victorious Telekom Cup campaign, told kicker. "We are a big club with great footballers.

"James is a great footballer who can stake a claim to play. But those who aren't called James also want to play."

The Bayern boss added that all his players have "the task of giving everything in training and in games."

The arrival of Niko Kovac (l.) has meant a mixed season so far for James. - 2018 Getty Images

James has double motivation given he is seeking to convince Bayern to take up the estimated €42 million purchase option in his loan deal from Madrid, the three-time reigning European champions.

"He has to produce top-class performances," said Kovac of his gifted playmaker, who has the third-best goals/assists-to-minutes ratio in the Bayern squad behind Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry this season.

"Now it's up to him to prove to us that he belongs in this team."

Watch: Bayern primed for the second half of the season

Last season, James made clear on a number of occasions his determination to make his switch from the Santiago Bernabeu to the Allianz Arena a permanent one, and Kovac confirmed the ex-Porto attacker has not changed his mind.

"Yes, of course," the former Hertha Berlin and Croatia coach replied when asked whether James has signalled a desire to become a long-term fixture at Bayern. "He likes it here in Munich."

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