What would have been a special moment for Gareth Bale now represents an important crossroads for the best Welsh player on the planet. Gareth Bale was born in Cardiff, the site of Saturday’s Champions League final. But instead of featuring in a Real Madrid side that could become the first to win consecutive Champions League titles, an ankle injury could keep Bale out of the match altogether.
Bale’s ankle has kept him out of action since April 23rd, but it’s the latest in a long line of issues. Bale has returned to training for a full week, but admitted to reporters in a pre-match press conference that he is still not completely healthy.
“I am not 100 per cent. I haven’t played for six or seven weeks,” said the 27-year old Bale. “I obviously had my operation which still really hasn’t recovered.”
The ankle operation, which occured in November, was the latest in a series of injuries that have worked their way down his body. He’s been known to have calf problems in both legs, spending eight different times on the injury list with calf issues. According to a former trainer, Bale’s injury woes start with problems in his back. Bale’s back injuries go all the way back to his time in Tottenham, before he moved to Madrid for a record fee. The back issues have trickled all the way down, and a lack of extended rest has prevented any recovery.
Then there’s Isco. With Bale sidelined the budding Spanish talent has stepped up, and it’s been key to Madrid’s success. Isco has five goals in his last eight games, with some calling to make Isco’s spot in the starting lineup permanent.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Bale and Madrid, and some think the pair has run it’s course. Reports have linked Bale with Manchester United in recent months, and Madrid have indicated that they are willing to listen to offers. United is one of a few clubs Bale is reportedly open to, and the Europa League champions are attempting to make a splash signing this summer.
Real Madrid’s lineup is nearly locked in for the final against Juventus, but the Isco/Bale debate will rage until the final hour. Bale will be in uniform on Saturday, but the extent of his participation could have a sizable impact on the next chapter of his career.