When Carlo Ancelotti signed for Real Madrid in 2013, one of his missions, in his own words, was “to manage to integrate the highly sought-after Gareth Bale”, who had just become the club’s most expensive signing (101 million). He succeeded, in his opinion, with a role that complemented Cristiano Ronaldo. Eight years later, on his unexpected return to the Bernabéu, the Welshman was still there, ready to complete the last year of his contract when everyone had already written his obituary Blanco in 2020 with the loan to Tottenham, and the Italian coach had no choice but to venture to a goal as difficult or more difficult than the first: to rescue the very devalued Gareth Bale (Cardiff, 32 years old). Reggiolo’s coach tried it, he lined him up as a starter the first three games, but he got there. At least for now.
Bale, in a descending line since Zidane sentenced him without reaching 30 – and very descending in recent times – has been in Madrid for four and a half months, since August 28. Clinico in his best days in the finals, he will not be in the Spanish Super Cup in which the whites meet this Wednesday in the semifinals against Barcelona (20.00, Movistar), with him and Mariano as the only meringues absences on the list. Of all his numerous falls in the Castellana, this is the longest, and who knows if it will be forever, considered by the cobbles as a foreign body in this league-leading Madrid, almost an element of the past that has been glued in the future, but that, yes, he started as a starter.
His problem now, after overcoming the covid, is a back ailment that “prevents him from pushing 100%,” according to the coach last Friday. Three days ago, he had said that “he was not injured, but that he was not feeling well”, and that he hoped to take him to the first title of the season. With no medical reports at the player’s request, information about the Welshman has continued to move in a haze. “A special type, of emotions”, even those who offer a positive portrait of him have admitted after having him close in Valdebebas.
When his teammates return from the appointment, he will accumulate almost five months without appearing with Madrid, with just one call-up (against Atlético), and 232 minutes with Wales, with whom he should play the World Cup play-off in March, a key commitment for him. The semifinals against Austria and, if they win, the final against the winner of Scotland-Ukraine draw a possible path towards what would be the second World Cup in the country’s history.
This half year of bonus track de Bale, at the top of the team’s salary scale with some 15 million salary, condenses the most exasperating part for the fans of his contradictory career: an injury as soon as he set foot in the Bernabéu; recovery in Valdebebas and relapse with his team; scarcity of data on your physical condition; friction with fans through the agent, who called them “disgusting” for the treatment of his client; and, in short, a very long loss. The longest with the Madrid shirt. Perhaps the best thing for his interests is that almost no one accounts with him anymore. It was not expected.
Initial bet on attack
In contrast to his nonexistent present, he was nonetheless one of Ancelotti’s first bets in the summer to drive an attack that, by all accounts, needed other arguments. Clinging to good memories and his pragmatic spirit, the coach did not hesitate to hit him at the start of the League in an attempt to squeeze out the drops he still had inside. Not Vinicius, nor the now appreciated Rodrygo, nor the current incumbent Asensio. At the start, it was Bale on the right and Hazard on the left. “If you have the motivation to play, you can have a great season, I have no doubts,” the Italian had assured in his presentation. The stake even gave him a goal against Levante.
However, the few lights that there could be melted as soon as he stepped into training at the Bernabéu a year and seven months later. In the place that he never understood – “why do they whistle me?” The beginning of his latest sequence of calamities.
He was cured in Valdebebas for seven weeks and, without having returned to play for Madrid but already with a medical discharge (he completed two training sessions), he left with Wales due to the ambient noise. “If the national team calls him, we have an obligation to send him. No one is going to take any risks, “Ancelotti said. He played 45 minutes in the win against Belarus (5-1) that brought his country closer to the World Cup play-off, added 100 caps and, on his return, three weeks of injury due to a soleus problem. He met the deadlines, he entered the derby list in mid-December, some whistles were heard when his name was sung over the loudspeaker, people forgot him with the victory (2-0) and, after three days, infected by covid. He returned to activity after the Christmas holidays and, this time, his back, which now leaves him out of the Super Cup list.
Unlike Zidane, who put the cross with his double substitution in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2018 against PSG and who later demanded his departure “imminent for the good of all”, Ancelotti has not stopped publicly defending his “commitment” and “motivation”. He gave him a reel, but Bale stopped without reaching September when he only added 193 minutes on the field. Up to now.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.