Gareth Bale is set to leave Real Madrid this summer.
According to highly respected Spanish news outlet Marca, Real have finally decided to put the injury-prone former Tottenham ace up for sale.
The news will alert long-time admirers Manchester United, rivals Chelsea who might consider a swap deal involving Eden Hazard, and Tottenham who have a buy-back clause.
Welshman Bale, 28, continues to stay on the bench as the club’s fortunes revive and his own morale dives.
Marca points out that Bale was not called on to start last week’s 3-1 Champions League win against Paris Saint-Germain.
Or the recent LaLiga clashes against Real Sociedad and Leganes.
It means the fit-again winger needs game time to return to form but head coach Zinedine Zidane seems increasingly unwilling to use him.
Bale cost Real a then world record £85.3million from Tottenham September, 2013.
He has since made 147 stars and scored 56 goals – a decent return by anyone’s standards for a midfielder.
Added to these figures are the 22 times he has been named as a substitute… but this toll is rising.
Marca reason it is “infeasible for Bale to block the pathway of younger, potential Ballon d’Or winners like Marco Asensio and as such his situation is unlikely to change between now and the summer”.
Real always hoped Bale would be the Neymar of Real Madrid, helping out Cristiano Ronaldo and leading the club to glory when necessary.
Los Blancos worry that he has not been consistent, that “he performs best when given total freedom to play outside of the collective intent, a role his abilities cannot warrant at such a demanding club”.
They also point to his injury record – a total of 25 problems cropping up to account for 78 games missed since moving to Spain.