Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid’s squad for its final La Liga match in the latest setback for the Wales star who is out of favor with club manager Zinedine Zidane.
Bale played an important role in helping Madrid to win four Champions League titles after the Spanish powerhouse set the then world-transfer record of 100 million euros to Tottenham in 2013.
But Bale’s role in the team declined in recent seasons, and he has become the center of long-standing transfer speculation. His almost complete absence from Madrid’s impressive march to this season’s La Liga title will likely only stoke those rumors that his stint in Spain’s capital is approaching its end.
Both Bale and James Rodríguez failed to make the squad for Sunday’s match at relegation-threatened Leganés.
The 31-year-old Bale hasn’t helped his cause by upsetting Madrid fans earlier this season with a peculiar victory celebration for Wales with a banner that mockingly read “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order.”
He has played sparingly since that incident and has almost disappeared since the La Liga resumed after a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a total of 100 minutes playing time in two appearances while being an unused substitute in eight games.
Apparently tired of being on the bench, Bale seemed to joke about his situation by using a face mask to cover his eyes like a sleeping mask in one match.
Now Zidane must consider whether to bring back Bale for the Champions League, a competition that he has flourished in with memorable goals. Madrid visits Manchester City on August 7 to play the second leg of its Champions League round-of-16 match after losing the first leg 2-1.
Zidane’s side will culminate its championship-winning campaign on when it crosses the capital to visit a Leganés team that must win to have a chance of avoiding relegation.
Madrid clinched its first league title in three seasons on Thursday when it beat Villarreal 2-1 and second-place Barcelona lost 2-1 at home to 10-man Osasuna. That combination left Madrid seven points ahead with one round remaining.
So Leganés may have a caught a lucky break that the title was decided before Madrid comes to its Butarque Stadium.
Leganés trails Celta Vigo by one point and must beat Madrid and hope that Celta doesn’t win at last-place Espanyol.