Gareth Bale has had to play second fiddle to the best player in the world the last five seasons, but with Cristiano Ronaldo now in Turin, is it now the Welshman’s time in Madrid?
Madrid begin life after Ronaldo, and Zidane, on Monday with the start of their preseason training where Bale met his new coach Julen Lopetegui.
Lopetegui, speaking perfect English, is reported to have said all the right things to the hero of Real Madrid’s 2018 Champions League final success.
Bale and his representatives now want to see if things pan out that way over the next week or so.
With the English transfer window closing on August 9 most big European transfer business is expected to be concluded in that time frame.
It will soon become apparent who Real Madrid intend to sign and what place Bale has in the post-Ronaldo constellation.
The team travels to the United States at the end of the month for a seven days of training and friendlies. When they return on August 8 the Premier League window will be 24 hours from closing. It will be too late to organise a move to an English suitor.
Bale wants thing clear long before then, which is why the next seven days of working with Lopetegui, are vitally important. As will be the disclosure of details on transfer targets.
If Eden Hazard is signed from Chelsea then the Belgian international could take up Ronaldo’s old position on the left of the front three with Karim Benzema through the middle, and Bale on the right.
That would be seen as an acceptable way forward. Playing more centrally, behind, or even instead of the number nine would also appeal to Bale. But his position, in many ways, matters less than his status in the team.
His record of 88 goals and 59 assists in 189 games is impressive for a second striker. Yet still he has been frequently criticized for not matching Ronaldo.
Bale believes that if he is given the same freedom’s as Ronaldo, that he can produce similar results. We will see over the next month or so whether Julen Lopetegui agrees with him.