Real Madrid president Florentino Perez may have to give up on his dream of seeing Gareth Bale become the club's next superstar as club officials begin to cast doubt over the Welshman's future.
Perez has long hoped to see Bale, an £86million signing from Tottenham in 2013, turn into the kind of player that Cristiano Ronaldo eventually became. He has kept tremendous faith in him throughout his time in the Spanish capital, most notably rejecting two £100m offers from Manchester United last summer.
However, according to AS, a large portion of the Real Madrid hierarchy now believe they should seriously consider selling Bale while they can still recoup a large portion of his original transfer fee.
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The reason? Bale's fitness record since moving to the Bernabeu has been noticeably poor. Indeed, the 26-year-old has suffered 11 injuries in his Real Madrid career thus far and has featured in only 8,620 minutes of a possible 13,590 (63%).
And these injury problems only seem to be getting worse. The current campaign has seen him limited to just 1,265 of 2,880 minutes (44%) as he continues to struggle with a niggling calf injury. The same report has calculated that with his €18m-a-year wages and transfer fee, Bale has so far cost the club €750,000-per-game.
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Some officials have even started comparing Bale to Arjen Robben, who arrived from Chelsea with great expectations in 2007 but was forced out of the club two years later having suffered a number of injuries, limiting him to just 61 appearances.
Bale has missed Real Madrid's last six matches and there is a feeling within the club that his absence has not exactly harmed the team. They have won four of those matches, drawing the other two, but have, of course, lost ground to La Liga leaders Barcelona in that time.
However, in general, Real Madrid seem to do as well without him as they do with him. They have lost just one game in Bale's absence – a 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo in 2014 – and few are missing his influence during his current absence.
Where could he go?
Most likely, Manchester United will be the only club capable of bringing Bale back to the Premier League. Real Madrid will demand in excess of £80m for his signature and his wage demands will undoubtedly take the total value of any deal beyond the £150m mark.
However, Bale has been in the sights of Ed Woodward since he took over from David Gill in 2013 and it is unlikely he will pass up the opportunity to finally bag that world-record deal he has longed for.
Should Real Madrid sell Gareth Bale this summer or does he deserve more time? Give us your thoughts in the comment box below!