So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu.
Gareth Bale has spent six years at the Santiago Bernabéu since signing for Real Madrid for a world-record transfer fee in 2013, winning 13 trophies and scoring 102 goals in 231 matches, but did not get one minute to say a possible farewell as Los Blancos went down 0-2 against Real Betis in their final LaLiga match of the season.
Bale’s absence was the major talking point as Zinedine Zidane’s men ended a woeful season in fitting fashion in the Spanish capital on Sunday.
The Welshman is expected to leave Madrid this summer, with Zidane deeming the 29-year-old surplus to requirements in his second spell at the helm. And the Frenchman’s decision to deny Bale the chance to say goodbye to the Madrid fans ahead of a possible summer departure has not sat well.
“Today he didn’t play because others have come in,” Zidane said in his post-match press conference. “I’m sorry that he didn’t get minutes today, but next year who knows what will happen. I have to take decisions and when I don’t like things or something doesn’t seem right I have to change them.”
Zidane made three substitutions during his side’s defeat against Betis but opted for Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vázquez ahead of the former Tottenham Hotspur man.
The decision to snub Bale, who has also been excluded from Madrid’s matchday squads in recent weeks, could be a personal decision, with some reports suggesting the pair do not talk to each other, or it could be a move to try and force the forward out of the club with funds needed to bring in fresh faces.
Bale is still tied to a contract at the Bernabéu and although he does not fit into Zidane’s plans, it is difficult to see where the player’s future sits should he refused to accept a drop in wages elsewhere.
Politics aside, the decision to deny Bale an outing in what could be his last match for Madrid looks petty. Helping to win the Champions League four times, bagging a brace as a substitute to win last season’s edition against Liverpool and another in extra-time to help Los Blancos win their tenth European Cup in Lisbon against Atlético, Bale has been crucial to Madrid’s recent successes – especially on the continent.
Injuries and a lack of interest in speaking publicly have not helped Bale’s cause whilst in the Spanish capital, nor did his price tag, but the forward’s spell at the club has largely been a success and the least he deserved was the chance to say farewell with one last outing.