Gareth Bale landed back in Madrid on Tuesday night at 9pm surrounded by the inevitable media attention.
His absence has caused quite a stir that he himself will surely ignore. Florentino Peréz, who likes to be economical with the truth, first leaked the explanation that he had trained on Monday and then had gone to London with Zidane's permission.
However, it transpired that the Welshman travelled at nine in the morning on Monday, meaning if he did some training before it would have been push-ups when getting out of bed. As for Zidane, yesterday at his press conference he said (up to three times, if I’m not mistaken) that “the club” gave him permission, a vague term that means everybody but the coach himself.
The “personal reasons” for his trip to London would have been for a chat with his agent, Jonathan Barnett. And it seems that chat went on for a while, since it took him two full days to return, during which time he skipped on the recovery work, or whatever it is he is doing, to overcome his mysterious injury.
Hiding Bale’s medical reports for years has finally resulted in a definitive explanation: that he embraces the patient's right to discretion. I don't know why they haven’t offered this explanation until now. Some have claimed that everything is down to a spat with Zidane, but that is a case of misreporting that will never rest.
If one thing characterises Bale, it is the fact that he is spoiled. Florentino bought him thinking that he was bringing in the next Cristiano (with whom he was never at ease) and Bale has taken and continues to take liberties that nobody else is granted.
What he is doing is an erosion of Zidane’s authority and sets a bad example for the squad, amongst whom he charges the most but is far from the one doing the most.
We must always thank Bale for the great goals he has scored in important finals, but we must also remind him that to reach those finals requires a lot of work, including in many of those games of less substance. And it is there where we see little from him.