Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has ended any hope Gareth Bale had of playing under him beyond this summer.
The 30-year-old Welsh forward was routinely jeered by Los Blancos supporters last season and subsequently lost his place in their first team.
Where now for Bale? Five key things to know…
- Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid for a then world record fee of £85.3m in 2013.
- He has gone on to make 231 appearances, registering 102 goals and 65 assists.
- Bale played a key role in four European Cup wins, including three on the bounce.
- His present deal with Los Blancos expires in June 2022, but according to Zidane that contract will not be honoured.
- Bale has been linked with former club Spurs and Man Utd as well as the Chinese Super League as his next destination.
Eden Hazard’s arrival plus the emergence of Vinicius Junior has effectively crowded Bale out, and Zidane – who reportedly deemed him surplus to requirements before exiting after winning a third successive European Cup in 2018 – sees no place for him in Real’s push for glory next season.
His fate was essentially sealed having started in only five of Zidane’s opening 11 matches back and completing the full 90 minutes in just three of those outings. Since joining from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 speculation of a Bernabeu exit hasn’t been far away.
A return to English football either with Manchester United or Spurs continually pops up, though his wages and injury record could put certain teams off him, but that won’t be Real’s problem according to Zidane following their 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the 2019 International Champions Cup.
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“We hope he leaves soon. It would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team,” he told reporters.
“I have nothing personal against him, but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done.
“I have to make decisions. We have to change. The exit is the coach’s decision, and also of the player, who knows the situation.
“The situation will change, I do not know if in 24 or 48 hours, but it will – and it’s a good thing for everyone.”
Naturally the forthrightness of Zidane’s words came across as being callous sounding especially given the supposedly strained relationship he shares with Bale.
To say the revelation sent shockwaves is an understatement. Many knew the Welshman’s days in Madrid were numbered, but talks of his exit could have been dealt with in a more dignified manner.
Bale’s outspoken agent Jonathan Barnett was among those critical of Real’s three-time European Cup winning boss and he didn’t mince his words.
“Zidane is a disgrace, he shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid,” he told AFP.
“We’re working on a few things. Gareth is a Real Madrid player but if he does leave it will be his own decision, not Mr Zidane’s.”