Gareth Bale is one of the greatest footballers of the last 10 years.
We're talking about a player who took European football by storm with a hat-trick against Inter Milan in 2010, before waving goodbye to the Premier League with an astonishing 2012/13 campaign.
The Welshman's exploits were enough to earn him a world-record move to Real Madrid where he's won four Champions League trophies and scored the winning goal in two of the finals.
Bale's plight in Madrid
When you bear that in mind, it's incredibly sad to see the situation that Bale finds himself in right now and with every passing month, the winger's value seems to plummet further and further.
It's never been a secret that Zinedine Zidane hasn't been Bale's biggest fan, but their relationship has soured beyond repair during the 2019/20 campaign and particularly after lockdown.
Bale's integrity has been called into question after spending time on the Real bench acting as though he's asleep, using tape as a telescope and wearing his face covering as an eye mask.
Bale returns for Wales
Combine that with apparently not being bothered about facing Manchester City in the Champions League as well as playing up to all the golf jokes and you have yourself a pretty dire situation.
And what things all the more depressing is that Bale hasn't been all that strongly linked with a move away this summer and could continue to pocket mega-money wages for two years in Spain.
However, there was a chance for Bale to actually get some game-time this week as international football returned and Wales got their UEFA Nations League campaign underway on Thursday.
After being exiled from the Real XI for so long, it was a chance for Bale to put himself in the shop window for Europe's top clubs, but it would be fair to say that things didn't go all that well against Finland.
Poor performance vs Finland
Although Wales were indeed victorious thanks to Kieffer Moore's late winner, Bale wasn't on the pitch to enjoy the celebrations.
Not only was Bale substituted after just 45 minutes, but he produced some pretty dire statistics to boot and SofaScore paints a desperate picture of his first start since June. Check out the data:
Key passes: 0
Accurate crosses: 0
Long balls: 0
Shots on target: 0
Accurate passes: 9
Possession lost: 9
Successful dribbles: 1
And if that wasn't bad enough, Bale's match rating of 6.7 was the lowest out of any Wales starter.
Nevertheless, Wales boss Ryan Giggs explained after the game that Bale's half-time substitution had been planned before kick-off and therefore had little to do with his performance.
According to the BBC, Giggs revealed: "It was planned before - he's had no football at all. It was always the plan, 45 minutes, and if he felt good, an hour.
"But I thought it was best with potentially Sunday in mind to bring him off after 45 minutes and give Harry [Wilson], who also hasn't had much football, some minutes as well."
It's hard to judge Bale's situation at Real Madrid with too much conviction until we hear his side of the story, but regardless of what's going on, it's sad to see such an incredible player struggling for game-time like this.
He deserves better. There's no doubt about it.
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