James Rodriguez: No Champions League, no problem - Monaco will be there in 2014

The Colombia forward isn't concerned that he is missing out on Europe's premier club competition, and tells Goal his new team will soon be sitting at the continent's top table
By Victor Vago and Ben Hayward

No Champions League, no problem. Talented forward James Rodriguez has targeted European football and titles following his switch to Monaco, but he is in no hurry to fulfil his ambitions.

James joined the ambitious Ligue 1 club earlier this summer for €45 million as part of a Riviera revolution which included the signature of Porto team-mate Joao Moutinho, fellow Colombia international Radamel Falcao and a host of other players including Eric Abidal, Ricardo Carvalho and Jeremy Toulalan in a total recruitment in excess of €125m.

Back in the top flight following a two-year exodus in Ligue 2, Monaco mean business, though they will have to wait at least one more season to rub shoulders with Europe's elite in the Champions League. However, James is confident that the scale of the project, and the new signings that have been secured, will lead to a swift return to the competition for the 22-year-old.

Speaking exclusively to Goal, he said: "I won’t miss it at all. I can play in the Champions League another year. Because I know Monaco, with the players we’ve got, will be victorious and play in the Champions League next year.

"Signing Falcao and Moutinho will help a lot. I’ve been playing with great players who have been top figures, and who are now here. I think that’s important. With good players it’s easy to play and adapt."

The Colombian's impressive campaign at Porto last term saw him make it into the Goal 50 list of the finest players in world football in 2012-13.

James is included at No.40 and is thrilled to be part of our elite selection. "It gives me great pride," he told us. "I’ve always wanted to do things well and play well. It’s a pleasure for me to be recognised. I had a good season and played some very good games."

Although used as a winger by Porto, the Colombian admits he prefers a different role. "The position I like most is the No.10," revealed the South American, who will wear 10 at his new club.

And despite his move to France, the 22-year-old believes his former side will continue to be strong. "Porto are a winning team by nature. Despite my departure and that of Joao [Moutinho], they’ll keep winning titles for many years."
Operating as a winger for Porto last season the Colombian scored 11 times in 34 games and impressed a number of the continent's top teams.

Monaco moved quickly to seal his signature, paying his release clause, and so in the space of three short years, the forward passed from relative obscurity as a little-known teenager with Argentine side Banfield to becoming one of the world's most expensive players. So how did he achieve his rise to prominence?

He explains: "Firstly, hard work. I’m someone who has always liked to train well and always wants to play well. The first six months [at Porto last season] were good. The last five unfortunately I had an injury. The most important moments were the first six months when I had a good level. I had a top level during those months.

"That all helped. I always want to play well in every game and want my team to win. Monaco are now going through this scenario. I don’t know if other football countries or other clubs were interested in me. The only thing I know is Monaco were interested in me. They have good players and that interests me. That’s why I’m here.

"Now this new project they have interests me a lot and I came here to win titles, too."

Backed by the formidable fortune of Russian billionnaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco will be expected to make an instant impact on returning to Ligue 1, yet current champions Paris Saint-Germain have also spent significantly in a summer which has seen Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani move to the French capital for a massive €64m from Napoli and Brazil defender Marquinhos join from Roma for around €35m.

James feels that despite the formidable arrivals in Paris, Monaco can compete upon their return.

He added: "Of course, why not? PSG are a strong team, and other teams in this league are good. But we’ll compete with them until the last game. We know we have good players and a good team to win the league."
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