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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Bale and James can emulate heroes of '95 title win

Iván Zamorano and José Emilio Amavisca played a key role in Madrid's 1994/95 LaLiga win after initially being deemed surplus to requirements.

 Zidane ya dijo el fin de semana que cuenta con Bale y con James para este proyecto.
Kevin Barnes - CameraSport CameraSport via Getty Images

A footballer's fate can turn on a sixpence. At the end of last term, James Rodríguez and Gareth Bale were both on the list of unwanted players handed to the club by Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, who was so keen to get shot of the Welshman that he asked Bernabéu bosses to find him a new team before pre-season began.

And since James was due back late because of his involvement in Colombia's Copa América campaign, Zidane's assumption was that he had seen the last of him: the midfielder, who was attracting particularly strong interest from Serie A outfit Napoli, seemed sure to be shipped out in advance of his scheduled return.

James and Bale both set to stay at Real Madrid

But with Manchester United refusing to negotiate the sale of Paul Pogba before the Premier League transfer window closed, Madrid's pursuit of the Frenchman failed; meanwhile, attempts to offload Bale to China also fell through. Anything can happen before the window shuts in Spain on 2 September, but 'Zizou' has reconciled himself to the fact that James and Bale are two men he'll have to keep hold of.

Zamorano and Amavisca: from outcasts to key men

If we cast our minds back a quarter of a century to the start of the 1994/95 campaign, we come across a similar situation at the Spanish-capital club. Jorge Valdano had just been appointed as Real Madrid's new coach, and was tasked with breaking the domestic hegemony of a Barcelona side which, under the stewardship of the legendary Johan Cruyff, had won LaLiga four years on the trot and had become known as the 'Dream Team'.

Keen to revamp the team, Valdano decided that he had no room in his squad for forwards Iván Zamorano and José Emilio Amavisca, with the former occupying one of the permitted spots for foreigners and the latter felt to be too inexperienced.

However, he finally held off on making a definitive decision on their futures until after pre-season - and was not only persuaded to keep them on, but saw them play a key role alongside the likes of Paco Buyo, Fernando Hierro, Fernando Redondo, Michael Laudrup and Raúl as Real Madrid lifted their first league title in five years.

The class of '94/'95 hit its peak in January's Clásico at the Bernabéu, beating Barça 5-0 in a whirlwind display that brought a hat-trick from Zamorano and a goal from Amavisca, too. Later, it was the Chilean's stunning overhead kick against Deportivo La Coruña that sealed the championship for Los Merengues. In all, Zamorano played 38 times, scoring 28 goals, while Amavisca chipped in with 10 in 37 games.

Zidane could do a lot worse than remind Bale and James of their story. Who's to say history can't repeat itself?