Gareth Bale appears to be living on borrowed time at Real Madrid and the summer transfer window could mark the end of his regal dream in the Spanish capital.
The Welshmen joined Real Madrid in 2013 for a then-world record transfer fee. With a little over €100 million paid to Tottenham, Real Madrid broke the 2009 record of €94 million invested in Cristiano Ronaldo. Former Tottenham winger was widely expected to become the Portuguese superstar’s natural successor at Santiago Bernabeu.
Six years into his Real Madrid career, however, it can be concluded that Gareth Bale is a wasted investment.
Once Cristiano Ronaldo announced he would be leaving for Juventus last summer – 45 days following Gareth Bale’s heroic brace in the Champions League final – Real Madrid believed they finally had a ready-made successor for the Portuguese superstar.
To be fair to the 29-year-old, his Real Madrid career suffered plenty of injury set-backs which prevented Bale from showing his full potential. In the end, however, the former Spurs star was still given more than an honest opportunity to earn his talisman status with Los Blancos.
Things started well for the Welshman at the beginning of the 2018/19 campaign. With three goals and two assits in four games, Bale was the bright spark of a shriveling Real Madrid side. However, he was quick to fade into stupor with the rest of the squad under Julen Lopetegui while his fitness problems simply made things even worse.
A groin strain back in October and an ankle issue in December were overcome with relative ease. The January calf injury at the turn of the year kept Bale out of the squad for three weeks – once again hitting his confidence as well as his fitness.
As Gareth Bale once again struggled for fitness, Real Madrid had no time to waste.
Santiago Solari took over from Julen Lopetegui and appeared to have switched his focus from marquee players to hungry youngsters. Rejuvenated Los Blancos – aided by an invigorated Karim Benzema – helped Spanish heavyweights back to their feet.
With Vinicius Jr. emerging as an exciting alternative, Gareth Bale might be running out of time in an effort to find his rhythm. The exciting 18-year-old Brazilian is widely seen as the poster boy of Solari’s new Real Madrid. He was expected to spend his debut season at Real Madrid earning his stripes with the reserves but Vinicius Jr. was thrown straight into the flames and appears to be fire-proof.
“Vinicius is football”, a short and simple description of the Brazilian provided by the Real Madrid manager is more than enough to illustrate the belief Los Blancos have in the youngster.
Fully fit Gareth Bale now faces a proper challenge of getting his confidence back from underneath the royal wreck and earning his place in the team. It will be a demanding task which could define his career at Real Madrid.
Wednesday’s El Clasico in the first-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final could be rather ominous for Gareth Bale. The Welshman started on the bench with Lucas Vazquez getting the nod from the off.
Vazquez is the man Bale needs to push out of the team but the Spaniard is building a strong case for himself and won’t go down without a fight. Los Blancos won 14 of 17 matches with Vazquez as a starter, whereas the 27-year-old winger also scored Real Madrid’s goal in the 1-1 stalemate at Camp Nou.
Real Madrid are given 7/5 betting odds to win the second leg at home soil and Vazquez will most definitely be in a strong position to start ahead of the Welshman once again.
Los Blancos have a busy schedule ahead of them with the city derby against Atletico Madrid coming up at the weekend. It might be the case that Solari wanted to preserve Bale and keep him fresh for the big game at the weekend, even though Welshman did not do himself any favours against Barcelona.
Bale produced a terrible miss in the closing stages of the El Clasico when he failed to pull off a clean enough strike after Marc-Andre ter Stegen went running out of the box to stop a Real Madrid counterattack.
It was the moment that could have brought victory to Real Madrid but instead only highlighted Gareth Bale’s lack of confidence and focus.
As summer approaches the pressure increases and Gareth Bale could be well on his way back to the Premier League. Having played not more than 45% of available games during his time at Real Madrid, Welshman is expected to be the first one to leave Bernabeu this summer.
And with Eden Hazard again flirting with Los Blancos, the Spanish heavyweights are widely expected to sell Bale in order to facilitate the deal for the Belgian.
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