It took one moment of brilliance against French side Paris Saint-Germain on Wed. Oct, 3 to send out a message to the world that FC Porto fans had probably already known – Hulk would not be missed.
After a deadline day transfer sent Porto’s icon Hulk to Russian giants Zenit Saint Petersburg for a fee reported to be in the region of 40 million pounds, many questions were raised as to how Porto would cope without the explosive Brazilian winger who formerly held the title as Porto’s star man.
The answer came on the biggest stage as Porto hosted financial powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champion’s League group stage.
With the game nearing the final whistle, Porto had nothing to show for their dominance over a side who was expected to trouble them greatly.
An 83rd minute cross evaded PSG’s defenders and eventually fell into the path of James Rodriguez, Porto’s Colombian maestro, who opened his body up and stroked a brilliant left-footed volley into the far corner, tucking it well beyond the goalkeeper’s reach.
Three points over the toughest opponent in Porto’s group? Check.
Confirmation of Porto’s new hero? Check.
James followed up his showing against PSG by calming slotting home a penalty to put Porto 2-0 up and virtually secure the win over league rivals Sporting CP this past weekend.
James, previously Porto’s number 19, was this year handed the iconic number 10 jersey, a number usually associated with the type of player who grabs hold of games and controls them; an association that James is clearly deserving of.
Although he often plays on either of Porto’s flanks, he is equally as adept at playing the role behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, pulling the strings, orchestrating Porto’s symphony.
He carries the ball with elegance, operating between the lines. He is fast becoming the catalyst for Porto’s attacking play.
He boasts a diverse arsenal of skills – his pace, trickery and delivery are coupled with his devastating left foot.
Above all though, he is intelligent. He has the eye to spot any pass, and is always aware of his teammates. He has the creative spark that is unteachable, and many players will never be able to add his natural flair to their game.
So far, “El Bandido” has racked up 4 goals and 4 assists in all competitions this season, reaffirming his importance to his club.
This hardly comes as a surprise, though. James was sensational last season for Porto, and ever since his move to Porto from Colombian side Banfield in the summer of 2010, he has shown flashes of his immense quality and potential.
If he keeps up his performances and his development as a footballer, the sky is the limit for James, who is still only 21 years of age and is looking more and more likely to become Porto’s key man. In a few years time, if not sooner, Europe’s elite clubs will be desperate for the signature of Porto’s Colombian wizard – James Rodriguez.