Real Madrid look to be putting themselves in the hands of 29-year-old Gareth Bale. The Welshman is already in his sixth season in the Spanish capital and, in spite of the rumours linking him with a move away from the club, and his apparent inability to stay fit, seeing that Neymar and Mbappé are missions impossible, the focus has changed.
Hazard not in Bale's marketing league
Chelsea's Eden Hazard (27) is one top player in the market that has caught the eye but is not the star that Florentino Pérez wants to lead the headline-making project, neither on the field nor as a player that can provide a strong financial return. Bale maintains his star value. He's backed by Adidas, just like Madrid, while Hazard is with Nike. According to The Guardian, the Welshman ranks fourth in the list of players with the most advertising revenues (around 40 million a year), behind only Cristiano, Messi and Neymar.
As well as Adidas, from whom he receives 26 million per season until 2020, he is also backed by brands such as BT, Nissan, FootLocker and EA Sports. Hazard, according to the same report, sits within the top ten but is well off the figures commanded by Bale, being backed by Nike, Topps, Lotus Bakeries, Sina Sports and EA Sports.
Cristiano's white throne awaits
Cristiano's departure to Juventus provided an unexpected twist to Bale's intentions. He made it clear after the Champions League final in Kiev that he wanted more minutes and that where he would be playing his football in the coming campaign was undecided.
"I really don't know [where I will be]. I'm going to have to sit down and discuss it with my agent. Maybe I'll be staying here [at Real Madrid], maybe not. We'll sit down in the summer and hopefully resolve this issue," he said.
With some holidays under his belt and a time to reflect, Bale clarified his thinking:
An incredible player and a top guy! It has been a pleasure to play alongside you for the last 5 years. Good luck for the future my friend 🏆🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/KBYLMYaWjP— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) 10 July 2018
"I was frustrated, I've said before, not to start the game. But I knew I was capable of being involved in the game and I was."
He did not start the final, coming on in the latter stages of the second half for Isco but it wasn't only the final that saw him take his place initially on the bench, with him being overlooked for several of the knockout games leading up to it. Now, without Cristiano and Zidane, the door to the white throne may just be reopening for Gareth Bale.