Real Madrid opened preseason training on Monday with some fresh new faces, including new signings Eden Hazard, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic.
Yet there was one person in attendance that some presumed wouldn’t have been around the club anymore: Gareth Bale.
The Wales international arrived at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training facility in the Spanish capital for the start of preseason training and first-day medical evaluations.
Bale heads into potentially his seventh season with Los Blancos, yet he’s in an interesting situation. The club doesn’t want him anymore, as coach Zinedine Zidane doesn’t trust Bale to execute his tactical plan week in, week out. And yet, with three years left on his contract, earning a reported $22.8 million per season, Bale sees no financial reason to leave.
That’s left Real Madrid stuck with a player it doesn’t want but one that it has to pay the wages of.
Tottenham has reportedly in the past reached out about potentially bring Bale back on loan, but with Real Madrid covering the wages, something Real Madrid has balked at.
Yet with Bale’s past season, scoring just eight goals in 29 La Liga games and again struggling at times with injuries, there’s few teams who would be willing to spend that kind of money on Bale. As such, the two sides are playing chicken, with Bale apparently ready to see out the rest of his contract, even if it means he’s a bit-part player or doesn’t play at all.
With the signings of Rodrygo and Hazard, as well as the emergence of Vinicius Jr., Bale is suddenly down to fourth in the depth chart as a winger, and falling fast. But he may not care. Even if he’s 33 when the contract runs out (he turns 30 on July 16), he can ride the pine in Madrid, earn enough money to make sure his great great grandchildren are well off, and perhaps retire into the sunset.
Of course, this does no good to the Wales National Team, which will lose its talisman and star player well before the end of his physical capacity to be a great player ends.