Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid career appears to be over.
The Welshman’s relationship with Zinedine Zidane is beyond the repair following the events of recent weeks.
Bale, who hasn’t featured for Madrid since the 2-0 win over Mallorca on June 24, told Zidane he didn’t want to travel to Manchester for Friday night’s crunch Champions League clash against Manchester City.
"It was a personal conversation I had with him. He preferred not to play," Madrid’s head coach was quoted saying by BBC Sport on Thursday.
"The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn't want to play."
Bale decided not to travel because he didn’t feel he stood a realistic chance of playing at the Etihad Stadium which, let’s face it, was a fair assumption.
He was left out the squad on the final day of the La Liga season against Leganes and was an unused substitute in the six previous fixtures.
Spanish TV cameras caught the 31-year-old playing a round of golf while his teammates prepared for one of the biggest games of the season on Friday.
Any club hoping to sign Bale this summer will probably need to convince him to take a pay cut.
The Wales international is on an eye-watering £600,000-a-week before tax at the Bernabeu and is reportedly happy to see out the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022, even if it means not playing.
But this would be a massive shame. Bale is still one of the world’s best forwards and should be playing week-in, week-out somewhere.
One thing’s for sure: he won’t be short of potential suitors if he tells his agent to find him a new club ahead of the 2020-21 season.
And his former club Tottenham are likely to be very near to the front of the queue.
Let’s check the latest odds, via SkyBet:
Leeds United (50-1)
Leeds have a top coach in Marcelo Bielsa but it’s very difficult to imagine Bale agreeing to join the newly-promoted Premier League side.
Newcastle United (33-1)
A move to Newcastle would have been more realistic had the Saudi Arabia takeover gone through. Now that’s all off, it’s safe to assume Bale will not be heading to St James’ Park this summer.
Manchester City (33-1)
A potential replacement for Leroy Sane? Possibly. That said, 2020 Bale doesn’t feel like a very Pep Guardiola-type player.
Juventus already have one ageing superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo. They probably won’t be splashing out a fortune in wages for another.
Inter Milan (33-1)
Inter have been interested in signing Bale in the past. A move to the Italian club could be a genuine possibility.
Borussia Dortmund (33-1)
Nope. Can’t see this one happening. Borussia Dortmund sign talented young players, not stars over the age of 30.
With Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and potentially Kai Havertz all arriving this summer, it’s hard to see where Bale would fit in.
Bayern Munich (33-1)
Bale has been linked with Bayern Munich in the past and would probably still fancy a move to the Bundesliga giants. But would they be interested now?
Bale’s previous relationship with Spurs surely means a move to Arsenal is out of the question.
Any Chinese Club (33-1)
Bale went close to moving to China last summer after being offered a record-breaking £1 million-a-week contract, only for Real Madrid to pull the plug at the last minute. It remains an outside possibility.
AC Milan (33-1)
AC Milan aren’t the force they once were and Bale may feel that he has more of a chance winning silverware elsewhere.
Paris Saint-Germain can certainly afford Bale, but is there room for him at the Parc des Princes with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe already there? Probably not.
Manchester United (25-1)
Manchester United wanted to sign Bale back in 2013, but the Welshman opted for a move to Real Madrid instead. If Man Utd sign Jadon Sancho, the chances of this deal happening are non-existent.
An emotional return to Tottenham could well be on the cards. Jose Mourinho would surely find room in his current starting line-up for the world-class forward. Spurs fans would love to have him back, right?
Any MLS club (7-1)
But the bookies believe that Bale’s most likely destination is Major League Soccer. Bale may be tempted by a move away from European football after everything that’s happened over the past couple of seasons.
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