Sunday, June 24, 2018

Are Real Madrid better off without Gareth Bale?

Gill Clark in Editorial, La Liga 25 May 2017


Is Bale’s time at Madrid up?

Gareth Bale picked up his first Liga title at the weekend, but not the trophy as he rather bemusedly learnt – he’ll have to wait another few months for that. But could it possibly be his last silverware for Real Madrid?

The Welshman who has been such a huge success at the Bernabeu, managed just 17 Liga starts last season due to injury and there is a convincing argument that Madrid looked a better side towards the end of the campaign without him in it.

The Isco factor

Indeed Isco came to the fore without Bale and by the end of the season had been involved in more goals than any other La Liga midfielder, according to Opta, with 10 goals and eights assists in 18 starts. That’s just one more start than Bale for the eagle-eyed amongst you.

In truth Madrid were simply irresistible going forwards on their way to the title, and they had to be with clean sheets a rarity. For the first time in their history they scored in every single La Liga game they played. They also managed a season’s best goals scored away from home, bagging 58 goals in just 19 games on their travels.

Isco, whose future has been the subject of speculation for some time, played a crucial role in the title win and was quick to commit his future to the club at the weekend.

“Do not worry the fans of Real Madrid. I will stay,” he said. “Yes, [the situation] was complicated at first, but I have remained strong psychologically and I have received the support of everyone.”

Asensio – the rising star

And it’s not just Isco who can keep Bale out of the starting line-up, there’s also Marco Asensio who has looked absolutely superb whenever he has been handed first-team minutes this season.

The 21-year-old’s form has seen him called up by Spain and has already shown his quality, he has nine goals for the season including strikes against Bayern Munich and Sevilla.

Make no mistake this kid has a massive future ahead of him and if Bale is not worried about Isco, then he certainly should be concerned for his place with Asensio around.

Bale has repaid his fee

And it’s not like Madrid would find a shortage of suitors if Bale were deemed surplus to requirements. The Welshman has long been desired by Manchester United although it’s also tempting to envisage him back at Tottenham, could he be the man to turn Mauricio Pochettino’s exciting young side into title-winners?

Bale has already repaid Madrid the huge faith they showed in him having won two Champions League titles, the Copa del Rey and now La Liga. He may not be loved in Spain, but he’s certainly respected.

Injuries have ensured this has certainly not been his best season in Spain but he will finish it on a high having won La Liga and with a Champions League final in Cardiff still to look forward to, he may have one more chapter to write in his Madrid career, a fairytale ending even?


Gill Clark

Gill is a freelance football writer who has spent many years working for Goal, writing and editing news, previews, match reports, ratings, live blogs and just about anything else she can get her hands on.

She now contributes to a variety of online publications, including Soccernews, predominantly covering the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.



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