Zidane defends Bale substitution decision: “I must think of the future”
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has intimated that Gareth Bale is no longer part of his plans.
The 29-year-old Welsh forward was an unused substitute in Real’s final game of the season, a 0-2 home defeat against Real Betis, fuelling even more speculation his time in the Spanish capital is coming to an end.
Bale’s time at Real Madrid: Five things to know…
- Bale joined Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for a then world record fee of £85.3m.
- He’s since gone on to make 231 appearances for Los Blancos, registering 102 goals and 64 assists.
- Bale, though, has been sidelined for a total of 350 days – missing a total of 74 matches – due to injuries.
- Nevertheless, he’s played a pivotal role in four Champions League triumphs.
- His present deal expires in June 2022.
Bale was heavily associated with a move away from the Bernabéu last summer, after losing his automatic pick status under Zidane, with long-time admirers Manchester United touted as a potential destination.
Zidane’s surprise departure was seen as a reprieve for Bale who remained in Madrid, but the relationship between him and the club’s supporters began to wane.
A string of indifferent performances saw the ex-Spurs winger become a scapegoat for Real’s failings this season.
He has been continually jeered and, since Zidane’s surprising return to the club, slowly phased out of the first-team picture. Now more than ever, a summer transfer seems likely.
Real Madrid’s last match of 2018/19 saw Keylor Navas start in goal and Bale was named on the bench, but did not feature in what could be his final game in the Spanish capital.
Zidane has stopped short of declaring Bale will leave this summer, but suggested he is no longer a good fit for Los Blancos.
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“It is true, I did not [give Bale a chance to say goodbye],” Zidane said, as per ESPN.
“If I had another substitute to make, I would not have done anything different.
“But I have to look at the day-to-day, and make decisions. And when there is something I do not like, or does not fit for me, I must do what I think best. It might be difficult for the player.
“We cannot forget all he has done here, but I must live in the present, think of the future. We will see [if Bale continues]. I don’t know what will happen, truthfully.”
Where next for Bale?
The problem Real face is where do they offload a player like Bale who is injury prone and on big wages?
Very few clubs across Europe can take him on and the fact he can no longer guarantee regular playing time is likely to put most potential suitors off, especially how much they will have to spend on him (transfer fee and salary).
Manchester United, as mentioned, have long been linked with the forward’s signature, but would the Red Devils fancy Bale as part of their latest rebuilding under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Some reports have even suggested Bale could leave initially on loan, which may bring some clubs back to the table.
There’s also the possibility of returning to Spurs, however the club has changed beyond recognition since he left.