The Gareth Bale sideshow is hampering Real Madrid preparations for the new season.
Much conjecture surrounds how things might transpire, and the whole saga has just taken another twist with BBC Sport reporting within the last hour that the Welsh international has pulled out of Real Madrid’s trip to Munich to play in a pre-season tournament. This of course follows the collapse of his anticipated move to China.
Last week Real boss Zinedine Zidane declared Bale was ‘very close to leaving’ and that the development would be ‘best for all concerned’.
It seemed crystal clear at that stage the player had no future at Real Madrid.
Then dramatically, the club made a complete about-turn, possibly brought about by the injury to Asensio which threatens to keep the Spanish international out for a full season. But perhaps the poor form shown in pre-season has also been a factor, in club president Florentino Perez, understood to be a Bale fan, stepping in to prevent the player moving to Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League.
Either way it doesn’t make Zidane look good, you wonder if he’s not being undermined or indeed if some kind of power-struggle is unfolding at an organization where politics are never far from the surface.
The official reason provided for Bale’s Munich withdrawal surrounds him not being in the right mental state after closure was brought to his Chinese plans.
This too leaves fans scratching their heads. The player through his agent, has always maintained he wished to see out his career at Real, so just when you felt that the pendulum was swinging back in favour of the player, comes this latest development.
Perhaps Bale had already become at one with the idea he could never co-exist with the French coach and made his mind up to go for the Chinese millions, only for the rug to be pulled from under him.
The whole saga speaks to the delicate mindsets of highly-paid, pampered footballers, so used these days, to getting their own way. Everything is relative of course but when you look at the salaries being earned, you wonder how ‘not being in the right mental state’ can be rolled out as an excuse for not representing the club (and fans) paying your wages.
It’s been a difficult pre-season for Real and particularly Zidane, who had to return to Europe from Montreal camp for the funeral of his brother.
With the retention of several aging stars you wonder if Real’s fall from grace can mirror that of post-Ferguson Manchester United. It certainly looks like a club that doesn’t have its sorrows to seek at the moment and you wonder if they are about to rival Manchester United as the world’s worst-run mega-club?