The veteran defender has nothing but praise for his young compatriot and feels he could win this year’s Fifa Ballon d’Or
Colombia skipper Mario Yepes believes Real Madrid star James Rodriguez has what it takes to challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Fifa Ballon d’Or.
The 23-year-old is one of 23 players who have been shortlisted for the prestigious individual award following his fine perfomances for Colombia at the World Cup, which saw him end the tournament as the top goalscorer with six goals.
James then joined Madrid in an €80 million move from Monaco over the summer and has slowly found his feet in Spain, starring in their recent victories over Liverpool and Barcelona in the Champions and La Liga respectively, with Yepes quick to give his compatriot a glowing endorsement.
“Can James compete with Cristiano Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi for the Ballon d’Or? I’m sure that given what he achieved at the World Cup, he’s got what it takes to challenge them,” the defender told the official Fifa website.
“He’s also showing that he was signed by Real Madrid on merit and has tons of potential. Let’s hope he can push Ronaldo and Messi all the way, and why not? He’s a lad with incredible vision, great mobility and so much composure it’s like he’s playing at a different tempo, but it’s just the way he plays.
“Those guys are monsters, two phenomenons, but they’ve got different characteristics and play in a different position [to Rodriguez]. They’re more about scoring goals, about turning a game. They run with the ball, they’re decisive and they score lots of a goals per season.
“But, like I said, James has this style of play, this tempo, which sets him apart from them.”
The 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or will be narrowed down to three candidates on December 1, before the winner is announced on January 12.