Bale could be among first out the door as Zidane rebuilds

Gareth Bale showed he won't be missed, as he put on another lacklustre display on Saturday in Real Madrid's match against Eibar.
Gareth Bale showed he won't be missed, as he put on another lacklustre display on Saturday in Real Madrid's match against Eibar.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • There will be a clear-out in the summer as Zinedine Zidane gets his considerable rebuilding job under way at Real Madrid.

Gareth Bale has been one of the big names, along with Isco and Toni Kroos, heavily rumoured to be heading out of the exit door.

On Saturday, the Welsh forward again put on a lacklustre display to show that there will be few tears shed should he leave the Santiago Bernabeu in the close season.

Karim Benzema scored twice at home as Real beat Eibar 2-1 in LaLiga after Marc Cardona had given the visitors a surprise lead.

The opening hour had, however, been full of groans and whistles - mostly directed at Bale, who was in the starting line-up after being dropped for the 2-1 defeat by Valencia on Wednesday, with Nacho, Isco and Federico Valverde also coming into the side.

And post-game, Zidane appeared to be lukewarm over the Wales player's future, cryptically telling reporters "we will see".

Asked whether Bale was part of his plans going forward, the Frenchman said: "I'm not going to tell you what's going to happen. Gareth is a Real Madrid player, he has two years left on his contract. It is not the time to talk about this."

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    League goal Gareth Bale has scored in the last five games. Karim Benzema has shouldered the scoring load with six goalsin his last five games.

The 29-year-old's below-par performances and a lack of support from either coach or fans seem so inter-linked now that it is difficult to know what comes first.

He departed the field again to jeers with 14 minutes left, a conciliatory hand slap from his manager offering little consolation as he trudged off.

His abject form has been in stark contrast to Benzema, whose upward trajectory has seen him nab six goals in five LaLiga games, four of them since Zidane took over the hot seat last month in his second spell at the club.

Hailing the French striker's "great season", the 1998 World Cup winner said: "His goals have perhaps changed people's perception of him. But he has never changed as a player."

Real's win, coupled with Atletico Madrid's loss to Barcelona, means Zidane's men are only two points behind their cross-town rivals with seven games left to play.

However, Zidane admitted "playing for nothing is difficult" with no silverware on the line and merely pride at stake.

The 46-year-old told Spanish daily Marca: "This season, we will not win anything, we know that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2019, with the headline 'Bale could be among first out the door as Zidane rebuilds'. Print Edition | Subscribe