As has become the norm in La Liga this season, Zinedine Zidane rotated his Real Madrid squad for Saturday’s home match against Leganes. There were starts for many of his squad figures. Borja Mayoral, Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente and Hakimi Achraf were all selected. There was also a place for Gareth Bale.
The Welshman has struggled for game time at the Santiago Bernabeu of late, falling out of the Real Madrid starting lineup in recent weeks. He was left on the bench for all 90 minutes of his side’s Champions League semi final first leg win over Bayern Munich last week, with many taking that as a statement on Bale’s future at the Spanish club.
At present, there is one free spot in Zidane’s preferred team up for grabs, with Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Isco, Lucas Vazquez and of course Bale all vying for the same place. Before the weekend’s game against Leganes, Bale was deemed to be at the tail of that queue, but he might now have jumped to the front.
Despite concerns over his recent form, Bale actually has five goals in his last six appearances. When he plays, the Welshman tends to produce something. In a sense, much of the criticism that he has faced of late has been unwarranted. Time and time again he has proved himself as an effective option for Real Madrid, particularly when Cristiano Ronaldo is out, as was the case against Leganes at the weekend.
Regardless, it seems likely that Bale will leave the Spanish capital at the end of the season, with Inter Milan reported to be interested in the 28-year-old. Manchester United will surely register their interest again should the Welsh winger finally become available on the transfer market this summer.
But before that inevitable parting of the ways, Bale could still have one last hurrah as a Real Madrid player. Everything is pinned on the Champions League for the Spanish giants this season and that’s where Bale could still have a real impact, over the second leg of the semi final against Bayern Munich and then potentially in the final.
The problem for Bale is that at present Zidane prefers Asensio to the Welshman. Against both Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in this season’s Champions League, Asensio has been used as a game-changer. Stylistically, Asensio is better with the ball at his feet, he can be played through the middle, but he still provides drive in the final third, much like Bale.
Yet in terms of pure productivity, Bale is still one of Real Madrid’s best players. He can still make an impression against the highest calibre of opponents. He will be a superstar for another club when he finally leaves Real Madrid at the end of the season. But before he leaves, he could still serve us all with a reminder of his quality. Zidane has so many options and Bale should still be valued as one.
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