MADRID • Change happens in the blink of an eye at Real Madrid and the clock may be ticking for Gareth Bale.
The Welsh forward netted the team's first goal of the league season against Deportivo La Coruna as the European champions put in a commanding performance to win 3-0 on the opening weekend.
Seven days later, however, Bale was whistled off by fans at the Santiago Bernabeu after Zinedine Zidane substituted Real's record signing against Valencia with the scores level at 1-1 as they chased a winner in the final 15 minutes.
The supporters were frustrated at Bale's limp display on Sunday in which he missed a clear chance by heading the ball into the ground and over the bar as Real failed to turn their superiority into goals and drew 2-2. While Bale struggled, the Bernabeu's new darling Marco Asensio shone. The 21-year-old scored both Real's goals, continuing his blistering start to the season.
Bale, who apart from his strike against Deportivo, has offered little in the league and either of Real's Super Cup wins, has been singled out for criticism by fans and media alike.
Zidane avoided putting pressure or blame on Bale.
"He is an important player in this squad," he said. "Gareth is Gareth. We will keep working, and keep counting on Gareth, like all the others. That's all."
However, it is difficult not to look past the French coach's words and Madrid newspaper Marca published a column on Monday headlined "Five days to sell Bale".
The article said Real should "take advantage of the good press Bale has in Britain and take advantage of the crazy, runaway and false transfer market".
Bale has always insisted he wants to stay at Real, happy to finally take part in a pre-season campaign, something he has been denied in previous years due to injury.
"I'm happy I'm playing football, I'm winning trophies, so yeah, I don't want to move. There's not really much more I can say," the Welshman said.
However, if Real take action, he may not be afforded much say in the matter.