Gareth Bale cannot understand why Zinedine Zidane has left him out of his last two Madrid squads, and fears being omitted on the final day too.
It was Gareth Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, who this week finally articulated a clear indication that the Welshman is heading for the Real Madrid exit, laying bare the player's broken relationship with coach Zinedine Zidane when he told Sky Sports: "I'm not sure Mr Zidane wants him to stay." Indeed, having been told by the club that they're after a buyer for Bale, Barnett set about using the interview to put his client in the shop window, declaring that a return to the Premier League "certainly is possible, if somebody puts their hand in their pocket".
Bale axed by Real Madrid boss Zidane once more
Bale may have already played his final game for Madrid. Having omitted the forward from his squad for last weekend's clash with Villarreal, Zidane has again left him out as Los Blancos visit Real Sociedad this evening. It may be that Bale's exclusion was motivated by the fact that he is one yellow card away from a ban that would deprive him of the chance to make a farewell appearance at the Bernabéu, in next Saturday's final-day match against Real Betis.
However, it's also eminently possible that Zidane won't bother with such niceties. Indeed, the Frenchman might even be doing Bale a favour: after all, this is a player who has been roundly jeered by Madrid's home crowd in recent months. Either way, though, AS has been told by sources close to Bale that he is baffled by Zidane's recent treatment of him.
April's win over Athletic may have been Bale's last Madrid game
Despite a Bernabéu career that has seen him score goals that have been vital to major trophy triumphs (his Copa del Rey winner against Barcelona, his Champions League final strikes in Lisbon and Kiev...), Bale's repeated injuries have taken too great a toll on his time in Spain: in the six years since his 101-million-euro move from Tottenham, he has played just 53% of Madrid's total game time.
His distant relationship with his team-mates has also been a major issue, with two recent episodes proving particularly damning for him in Zidane's eyes: his decision to absent himself from the team bus after the defeat to Rayo Vallecano, and his early departure from January's 2-0 home loss to La Real, at a point in the game when his colleagues were still only one goal behind and were chasing an equaliser.
Bale last played for Madrid in a home win over Athletic Bilbao on 21 April. That may have been his valedictory appearance in the white shirt.