After making his first start in over 2 months in La Liga, a struggling Gareth Bale was finally put off his misery as Marco Asensio came on to replace him after just 39 minutes into the first half of an El Clasico of massive importance. A visibly distraught Bale was helped off by the Real Madrid medical team and went straight down the tunnel, holding his calf all the way, with the score evenly poised at 1-1. The calf muscle tweak that saw Bale limp out of the Clasico defeat at home to Barcelona was the 17th different injury the Wales international has had since his €100 million arrival from Tottenham in summer 2013.
Gareth Bale had started the season in excellent form , displaying the same sort of form he was at his time at Tottenham, and more importantly maintaining his reputation as one of world’s best.
In fact, around the time he signed a new six-year contract last October , and spoke of coming through his struggles against injuries and the occasional whistles directed at him by the Madrid fans, he was arguably Zidane’s most important attacker and that was saying something , in a line up that included goal scoring machine Cristiano Ronaldo.
However his luck ran out again as an ankle tendon injury suffered at Sporting Lisbon in November derailed his campaign, and he has never really regained full fitness since. These are Gareth
Bale’s stats this season:
Number of injuries: 3
Games played/missed: 24/27
Madrid results with him: W16 D7 L1
Madrid results without him: W17 D6 L4
He has missed an incredible 27 games this season, which also included crucial ties like the UCL Semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid, and the second leg against Bayern Munich in the quarter final stage. What’s more worrying for Bale though, is how his team coped without him.
Even though Zidane has always praised Bale for his professionalism and work rate, the rise of young Spanish sensation Marco Asensio and consistent performances of Spanish international Isco has seen fans and the manager endear more to the duo than the Welshman.
The results seemed to prove the fact that the Madrid side is much more balanced and has had a better record without Bale. Various reports has also stated that some Real Madrid players were unhappy with Bale’s inconsistencies and has reportedly told Zidane to play Isco and Asensio more often and to offload the Welsh international , sparking rumours of a possible summer transfer to Manchester United and PSG.
Of late, multiple reports states that Mourinho has made Bale an important target after cooling down his interest for French superstar Antoine Greizmann. When asked about his future after the recently concluded Champions League final, he insisted that he is happy at the Spanish capital and has the full backing from Zidane and his teammates and has dismissed talks of a possible exit from Real Madrid. “I’ve signed a long-term contract at Madrid,” he said. “My family is happy and I am happy so, yeah, we will continue what we are doing. We are winning trophies and I am happy.”
In spite of proving time and again that he is the man for the big occasion(Having played important roles in the Champions League successes in the past couple of years), Bale knows as much as anybody the importance of the upcoming season with his future with Los Blancos depending heavily on he overcomes his recent injury struggles.
With constant injuries hampering his progress to be one of the world’s best, if not the best, it only remains to be seen if Gareth Bale will finally explode into life and hit the peaks that made him the then world’s most expensive player.