Towards the end of last season and a relatively big chunk of the summer transfer window, it seemed as though the end has officially arrived for Gareth Bale's tenure at Real Madrid. All his injuries and "sub-par" performances have gotten the best of him and Los Merengues seemed ready to cash out. They had it figured out as well according to the media. Even if the Welshman leaves and they cannot get a suitable replacement, then they will gladly play Lucas Vazquez in his position. Every possible prediction was in place and then the unpredictable happened.
Cristiano Ronaldo left to Juventus.
At that moment, everything changes. The plan changes and the club are forced to re-evaluate. The club that was once prepared to lose the skills of Gareth Bale are now looking at the possibility of using him as the star. It doesn't matter if Eden Hazard joins, all eyes should be on Bale. The reason? It's now or never.
After the UEFA Champions League Final, Bale has admitted that he wants more minutes and hasn't been getting it even though he has been fit. The upside to this is that he never mentioned that he will be moving but that his choice would be to stay at the Spanish capital and have a more important role. For anyone against that due to his performances last season, let's have a quick look at what exactly happened.
Zinedine Zidane, for one reason or another, was adamant at playing the Welshman up front alongside Karim Benzema. Don't get me wrong, the risk is worth trying but it was doomed to fail ever since the first time he played there. Instead of finding ways to play him in a more natural position, he ended up making most of his appearances as a forward. Given that this is something he is clearly uncomfortable with, he still came out with a respectable 5 goals and 4 assists in 12 appearances (five of which was as a substitute). Having said that, he played seven games on the right which is where he was meant to be and in those seven outings, Bale came out with 6 goals. On the left, he scored three in two appearances and as a right midfielder, he scored two goals in as many appearances. Keep all this in mind when also remembering that the Welshman has been struggling with injuries.
At 29-years-old, Gareth Bale is smart enough to know that it's now or never for him at the club. Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer in the picture and neither is Zidane. Under Julen Lopetegui, he has the opportunity to show exactly why Real Madrid payed so much for him and prove all the doubters wrong once again. Needless to say, he has not been a flop at the club by any means but luck was against him when it came to his recurring injuries. It seems as though that is behind him now and he has had time to rest over the summer break. Throughout the past few months, his intentions have been clear: He wants to play more and he prefers to do so at Real Madrid. If we are unable to give him that now, then when will be a good time for that to happen?
There has been a lot of talk about him leaving Real Madrid, mainly ones linking him to Manchester United, but all that can change if Lopetegui promises to use him as needed. We all know how important Gareth Bale is to any club and it's time to give him the opportunity that he deserves.
Personally, I would rather we keep Gareth Bale in the squad and not sign a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo if that is what it takes. If he can stay fit (and it's worth the risk of seeing whether or not he can), then he is the correct replacement right now.