Real Madrid's Gareth Bale conundrum
It has been almost six years since Real Madrid smashed all transfer records to buy Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur but much has changed since then. The Welsh wizard has played his part in Real's recent dominance in European football but a string of injuries and a lackluster 2018-19 season has made him a target of the fans and some of the club hierarchy.
Bale's Real career at a glance
Bale's stats at Real Madrid may not be as glorious as that of Raul Gonzalez or Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Welshman has had his fair share of glory at the Bernabeu. He netted a total of 102 goals in 231 appearances for Los Blancos, which is about 2.26 matches per goal, far better than Karim Benzema's average of about 2.09 matches per goal. With one La Liga, four Champions League and three UEFA Super Cup winners' medals in his kitty, the Welshman has also not been a stranger to silverware during the last six years. (All stats from transfermarkt.com)
His time at Madrid will always be remembered for the wonder goal he scored against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final in 2014 and the recent bicycle kick against Liverpool in the Champions League final of 2018.
The heart of the matter
Despite these successes, life at Madrid has not been easy for Bale. He has been the target of fans for long and last season's struggles, post the departure of Ronaldo, just added more fuel to the fire.
He reportedly can't speak Spanish fluently even after six years in the Spanish capital. His teammates apparently call him 'the golfer' due to his obvious love for the sport. The reappointment of Zinedine Zidane also did not help the Welshman much, given the recent souring of relations between the two.
It has been reported that Zidane has agreed to come back to Madrid only after getting assurance that he'll have full control over transfers. He has already brought in the likes of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy and, according to rumors, is also interested in bringing in Paul Pogba. The club is also interested in Neymar, and recent events in Paris suggest he might be available this summer.
Madrid has already sold the likes of Fernando Llorente, Mateo Kovacic, Theo Hernandez and a permanent move away for James Rodriguez is reportedly on the cards as well. But to bring in someone like Pogba or Neymar and to adhere to UEFA's regulations of financial fair play, Los Blancos will need to sell big and perhaps the only player with a hefty price tag available for disposal is Bale.
But the Welshman is not very excited about a move away from the Spanish capital. According to AS, Bale has informed Real about his intention of staying despite knowing he's not in Zidane's plans.
His huge salary is also something that is keeping prospective suitors away and the Welshman is unwilling to accept a pay cut to facilitate a move away from Real.
What's next for Bale?
There are only a number of possible situations that the Welshman can find himself in right now. If he stays put in Madrid, he'll have to work hard to force himself into Zidane's plans. It will not be easy though as Marco Asensio, Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior, Brahim Diaz and Jovic wil all be competing for similar roles in Zidane's final eleven. It will also mean that Real will probably not be able to buy Pogba or Neymar.
The second prospect is that the Welshman accepts a pay cut and moves on, or some club agrees to pay his full salary and swoops him away. This situation will probably suit Real the most but the Welshman's lack of interest in a move and his enormous salary can get in the way of this plan.
The last and the least likely situation is that he moves away from Madrid on a loan deal just like James Rodriguez. But Bale's agent has already dismissed the chances of such a move and his salary demands are also not helping the case.
Zidane can certainly benefit from having someone like Bale but seems to have turned his back on the attacker. Should the Welshman decide to move away, Madrid fans can expect another Galactico joining their ranks. But no matter what happens, the contributions of Bale should never be forgotten by the Real faithful.