Bale off the pace as Isco ushers in the new era at Real Madrid

These are not particularly good moments either for Real Madrid, or for the club’s record signing, Wales’s talismanic but unlucky galáctico, Gareth Bale.

Despite scoring in his La Liga debut back in 2013 much of his first season was plagued by injury, the direct consequence, some say, of having missed out on vital pre-season training due to the drawn out and exhausting negotiations and posturings that surrounded his move from Tottenham Hotspur to Madrid.

Thankfully he got back on track and for a while was considered by many – not least the club President, Florentino Perez – as very much the future of Real Madrid.

But further injury problems have meant it’s back to the drawing board for Bale although that’s still a long way from saying the club has plans to part company with the player.

The stark statistics make for unhappy reading for everyone at the club, especially the player himself; and they only really tell part of the story

Since signing for Los Blancos, Gareth Bale has missed a total of 63 games and has been out for 315 days. The worst injury was an ankle problem that kept him out for 84 days from November to February last season.

Eager to return to the fray after being injured in the Madrid derby on November 19, he was back in the side on February 18 for a home match against Espanyol. He played a number of games from then on but was nothing like as sharp and effective as he should have been. He knew that he was well below his best, but perhaps even more worryingly, so did his teammates who did not look to use him as the lightning fast attacking option they had done in the past.

With the benefit of hindsight he should have listened to Ashley Cole who told him that after a fairly long term injury you should take as much time as you need to get your body back to 100% even though you feel that the original injury has healed

If you don’t, he was told, there is always a likelihood that you will break down with something else very soon afterwards, and not necessarily in the same area, simply because you whole body is not in the peak condition that it needs to be.

He should have heeded the advice, but didn’t and consequently paid the price when suffering a calf muscle strain just eight days before the second league Clasico of the season.

Once again he should have listened to his body and stepped down from the Clasico. Once again, he didn’t and ended up limping off after 39 minutes.

A 13-minute cameo in the Champions League final triumph against Juventus flattered to deceive although all seemed well on his return for the new season until he once again broke down with a calf injury after the Dortmund Champions League game, an injury that would see him sidelined for a further 40 days.

Further pain was heaped onto the Welshman when as a result he was unable to help his beloved country qualify for a World Cup play off spot, with Wales falling short against a Republic of Ireland side that you sense would have been very beatable had they had to face a 100% fit Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid fans and media – two entities not best known for their tolerance and compassionate natures – are very much of the opinion that Bale has, for want of a better phrase, been somewhat ‘milking’ his unfortunate run of injuries.

Nothing could be further from the truth because there is nothing Gareth Bale wants to do more than play – and play at his best – for the club. But as a result of this perception from certain people around the club, rumours are rife about a move for him.

Much of the media are pushing for him to be moved on and when the Real Madrid media comes out with this sort stuff it is normally safe to assume that such ‘tittle-tattle’ has been spoon fed to them and generated from within the club.

I say normally because on this occasion I am reliably informed that Real Madrid have told the Welshman that they 100% want to keep him at the club. That is certainly what he is being told at this moment in time.
Offers

Certainly, last summer there was already talk that one of the BBC would have to move to make way for the signing of M’Bappe. But in the end there was no offers for Cristiano, the President wanted to keep Benzema and Gareth Bale made it clear he had no intention of wanting to leave.

To be honest, before suffering his ankle injury he was the club’s most exciting player.

But now Bale’s problems are not just because his body is not 100% right but also because since his injury the dynamic of the team has changed with Isco now very much the leader.

What this means is a possession game rather than one that involves attacking as a unit with less space and less direct football which is something which is clearly affecting Cristiano Ronaldo as much as it will Bale.

The task for Zidane now will be find a balance between a team that can control a game and one that can also kill you on the counter attack. To that end, Bale, when he returns -and sources at the club suggest it will take less than the two or three weeks suggested by Zidane last Friday- will have to return to the wing and do a bit more of the spadework rather than look for the limelight down the middle.

He needs to start again, effectively after just about a year out. It’s back to basics.

No one has ever doubted his great skill and I still believe that with a change in fortune we could still the Gareth Bale that we know who can still become one of Real Madrid’s most influential players.

And the reason I feel that so strongly is that, if not immediately, then certainly after a short time Cristiano and Benzema will be better players because of his continued presence in the side. In fact, everybody will benefit from having a fit again Bale in the side