"Bale's not got anything serious" said Zidane on 26 September after the Dortmund match. Just after that the talk was merely of a bout of cramp. Which eventually turned into a calf strain that's kept the striker for 45 days now. And just when it looked like the player was getting back to full fitness, with people expecting he could play in the derby against Atlético, he broke down again in training and is now out for three to four weeks.
In total he's been injured 19 times since he signed for Real Madrid. Just under four times a season.
Bale's poor return on investment for Real Madrid
Real Madrid signed Bale on 1 September 2013 for 100.7 million euros, making him the club's most expensive player. Florentino made a big bet on a player who he saw as a natural successor to Cristiano Ronaldo, both on and off the field. But with all Bale's injuries he's only played 55% of the time he could have. A lacklustre return on a lavish outlay.
In fact, taking into account the total expenditure on Bale, including the amortisation of his transfer fee and his salary, Bale has cost Real Madrid no less than 1,060,377 euros per match.
Every minute he's played has cost Real Madrid 13,593 euros
Bale costing over one million euros a game
Bale was signed for 100.7 million euros, on a six year deal, meaning each season works out at 16.7 million euros - he's currently in his fifth season. His salary was 18 million gross for the first three seasons, rising to 22 million gross last year. In total then in 2013-14 to 2015-16 Bale cost Real Madrid 34.7 million euros a season in total, rising to 38.7 since 2016-17. Taking into account that this season the cost is only for five months, in 2017-18 it works out at 25.86 million (16.7 amortisation of transfer fee and 9.16 of gross salary).
Add it all up and it comes to 168.8 million. With Bale having played just 159 games, each one comes out at 1,060,377 euros. Each minute he's been on the pitch has cost Madrid 13,593 euros.
Bale's trophy successes
In his 1,531 days at Real Madrid, Bale has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga title, a Copa del Rey, two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups and one Spanish Super Cup. But his performances are far below what was expected when he signed. It's true he's left some images that will go down in the history books at the Bernabéu, such as when he sprinted down the touchline past Bartra to score the goal that gave Real Madrid the Copa del Rey against Barcelona in 2014, or the header to make it 2-1 in Real Madrid's Décima, their tenth European Cup.
There's no doubt he's demonstrated power and pace, when his body has allowed him to, but he's also tried the patience of the Madrid fans to the limit, protected as he is from the VIP suite at the Bernabéu as a non-negotiable part of the bbC, yet unable to make himself a vital part of the team on his own merits.
In fact, Isco and Asensio, through their football alone, are constantly putting his place in the starting line-up in doubt. This summer he could have left for Manchester United, with Mourinho keen to have him. But the Welshman decided to stay at Madrid. A costly decision for the Spanish club, who have yet to see any return on their lavish outlay at all this season...