Gareth Bale’s wretched injury record has forced him to miss a copious amount of football this season, but the Real Madrid star believes he has found a solution to his problems.
The Welshman made his first appearance in nearly two months on Sunday and social media went crazy when he appeared with holes in both of his socks.
The reason? No, Bale isn’t making a fashion statement. He’s actually trying to prevent further injury by relieving the pressure on his calves.
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The 26-year-old has suffered three separate calf injuries this term, forcing him to miss nearly two months of the season.
And to prevent himself from aggravating those niggles, he has taken to cutting small holes halfway up his socks. Some claim Bale is playing a psychological trick on his mind as he attempts to put together a lengthy run of games.
Check out Bale's new socks
Bale came off the bench in the 65th minute and marked his return with a goal as Madrid crushed Celta Vigo 7-1.
The La Liga is out of reach - Los Blancos trail Barcelona 12 points in the title race - but Bale will play a massive part in their hopes of winning a second Champions League in three years.
One foot in the quarter-final
Madrid have one foot in the quarter-final after their 2-0 win against Rome in the first leg of their last 16 clash and Bale, who scored in the win over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final, will be a welcome sight in the starting line-up.
Despite starting only 14 games, the world’s most expensive player has scored 14 goals this season and his early-season form had Madrid fans excited that they could topple Barcelona.
Now he’s back, and one of his most important roles will be taking the workload off of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward has scored 27 goals for Madrid in the league - more than a third of their total - and recently expressed his anger that his teammates weren’t at his level.
Bale was one of the players Ronaldo, 31, admitted was a key loss following the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid last month.
“If they were all as good as me, we’d be top,” the former Manchester United winger complained, per Marca. “I don’t want to put anybody down, none of my teammates, but when the best players aren’t all present it is difficult to win.
“I like to play alongside Pepe, Karim [Benzema], [Gareth] Bale and Marcelo… I am not saying that Jese, Lucas [Vazquez], and [Mateo] Kovacic aren’t any good, they are very good, but all the same…”
Bale tortured Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final, and he may be called upon to be Madrid’s game-changer at some point this season.