Does Zinedine Zidane’s return signal the end for Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Within minutes of the full time whistling after last season’s Champions League final, with Real Madrid’s players still celebrating on the pitch at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Gareth Bale threw fresh doubt on his future in the Spanish capital. His remarks were the clearest sign yet that the Welshman could be set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu.

Of course, as we know, Bale ultimately stayed at Real Madrid. His relationship with Zinedine Zidane had broken down, but the Frenchman resigned from his position before the Welsh winger could plot a route out for himself. With Cristiano Ronaldo also leaving for Juventus, this was seen as a fresh start for Bale.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale look dejected after the first goal of Sevilla team during their soccer match in Seville

The 29-year-old has failed to make the most of this opportunity, though. Under both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, Bale failed to make himself a first team pick. He has become a scapegoat for the notoriously tough to please Santiago Bernabeu faithful, involved in a number of incidents which have made negative headlines in the Spanish capital.

And now Zidane is back. Indeed, the Frenchman made a shock return to Real Madrid on Monday, taking over from Solari following a week in which their entire season fell apart, dropping out of the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Liga title race and the Champions League all in the space of six days.

With Zidane back at the helm, an overhaul is now expected in the summer. Players like Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have all been linked with a move to Real Madrid as the capital club look to move into a new generation, but many are also expected to leave the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid are weighed down by a number of ageing stars on big money. Karim Benzema, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, among others, may well be club legends, but the time has come for them to be moved on. Bale might be another who is moved on.

A parting of ways might be best for both parties at this point. There is now such a circus around Bale that it’s difficult to envisage how he will ever turn things around. The Welshman’s options have never been narrower, with Manchester United no longer so keen and Chelsea recently handed a transfer ban, but staying at Real Madrid might not be open to him either.

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