A friend of mine wrote to me last weekend ahead of the Real Madrid-Athletic game and suggested that Gareth Bale suffers from the "poison of indifference". The game ended in a 0-0 draw but when he was on the pitch Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr. played with high level of enthusiasm. His final ball or effort on goal could be better on occasion but he injects life into the team and when he was substituted that spark was absent from the pitch. Bale played for the final half an hour of the game and his indifference was visible as he meandered around the pitch with a dispassionate air. He managed two shots on the Athletic Club goal and managed to feign running after the ball and that was about the lot.
Bale is the piece of the Madrid jigsaw that is faltering. With Cristiano's departure to Turin, Florentino anticipated that Benzema would make a step up and take on more responsibility. Gareth Bale is not a player to offer an improvement to a collective but is a player with an excellent shot, can take players on and is a fine header of the ball. Florentino has always held the player in high esteem but must be still regretting the error of not signing Mbappé, after Bale refused to move to Manchester United with the president anxious not to relegate the player from the BBC attacking trio. Today Bale is performing like a "prima-donna", showing little appetite to play in certain games and reserving his best displays for the Welsh national side or the big occasions such as the Champions League or the recent clash with Barça.
I totally understand why Zidane wants to keep the Welsh international 'on-board', but performances such as that against Athletic really do try ones patience. With Eden Hazard currently out of action though injury, the time is perfect for Bale to have shown his level of compromise, not the version of the player we say ambling about the Bernabéu last weekend. We're all aware of the Belgian's injury and his desire to regain full fitness. None of us knew what affliction Bale was suffering from recently or my have in the future. All we know is that he still carries around that 'poison of indifference' which keeps Zidane patiently looking for an antidote or to see that one day....