REAL MADRID

Bale, James: Real Madrid's Galácticos in extinction

Bale cost €101 million in 2013, while James came for €75 million after shining in the 2014 World Cup – Galáctico prices for two Galácticos who have practically become extinct.

Bale y James durante el calentamiento previo al Real Madrid-Valladolid de la 2ª jornada de LaLiga Santander, el 24 de agosto de 2019.
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Not even the possibility of making five changes and a packed schedule of games have prompted Zinedine Zidane to hand opportunities to the Galáctico pairing, Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez.

The exit door was open to both of them last summer, but the options that arose were not convincing enough for them or the club itself. In the first two league games since the resumption of play following the coronavirus suspension, only Bale has featured – in a 30-minute cameo against Eibar where he practically went unnoticed. The Welshman could not even muster up one shot, while he missed four passes from seven attempts and lost the ball on five occasions.

Bale has failed to repay Zidane’s confidence

Those are pretty poor numbers for a player aspiring to win one of the most hotly contested positions on Zidane’s team, the right side of attack, where Marco Asensio, Brahim Díaz, Rodrygo and the injured Lucas Vazquez are also vying for a spot – not to mention Vinicius, whose opportunities to occupy the left flank have been complicated by Eden Hazard.

Despite Zidane's efforts to take advantage of his quality and include him in the dynamic, the Welshman has found it difficult to repay the coach’s confidence in him. The 30-year-old forward has not scored since his brace against Villarreal in the third game of the season on September 1.

Zidane has so far used 17 players since the league’s restart. Of those available, only Alphonse Areola, Brahim, Isco (injured in the second game, but called up in the first) and James have not featured, in addition to youth squad members, Diego Altube and Javi Hernández. James has not played a single minute in the league since the Mallorca debacle on 19 October.

James has disappeared

Like Bale, James won Zidane’s confidence at the season’s opening after having had one foot at the exit door during the summer. The 28-year-old featured in seven of the first nine league games, playing 341 minutes and scoring one goal. He was then injured after playing 11 minutes against Galatasaray and since then has failed to regain prominence.

In last almost eight months, he has only played 13 minutes against Valencia in the Super Cup (when the semi-final tie had already been won) and three Copa fixtures (all as a starter). He is the 21st player in the squad in terms of minutes played this season (650 in totoal) and the 22nd (228 minutes) so far in 2020.

Indeed, it is very little presence for two of Real Madrid’s three most expensive signings in the last decade, the other being Hazard. Bale cost €101 million in 2013, while James came for €75 million after shining in the 2014 World Cup – Galáctico prices for two Galácticos who have practically become extinct.