REAL MADRID

Ancelotti believes Bale can return to his best at Real Madrid

The Welshman played a key role in La Décima, but lost prominence in the Italian's second season. This proved to be problematic between Ancelotti and Florentino Pérez.

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Carlo Ancelotti returns to Real Madrid and the same dressing room that he shared with many of the current first team players during his first spell at the club. Ramos, Kroos, Modric and Casemiro lifted the club's tenth Champions League with the Italian and said their goodbyes a season later. Another member of that squad was Gareth Bale, who was key in the first season with the Italian in the dugout (also the Welshman's first in white), but lost his way in the second. This caused Ancelotti a problem with president Florentino Pérez, who wanted the then most expensive signing in the club's history to play more minutes.

Bale not happy with role under Ancelotti

As Ancelotti recounts in his biography, it happened as follows: "The general manager phoned me and told me that the president wanted to speak to me. When I went to his office, he told me that Bale had called him. I had replaced him on 4 January (in the 2-1 win at Mestalla that ended the winning streak). Bale's agent had complained because Gareth wanted to play through the middle. The chairman asked me what I was going to do and this was my answer: "Nothing". I couldn't change the system in the middle of the season. Since then, the relationship with the chairman wasn't the same."

The coach also recalls how, after his clash with Florentino, he went to talk to the Welshman to try to resolve the situation. "I spoke to Bale the next morning. I told him I knew his agent had gone to the president. 'Why didn't you come and talk to me about what you wanted,' I asked him. "Yes, OK, no problem," he replied. I was clear with him. I told him we could try a change of position in pre-season, but not now. It was not the time to change the scheme. It didn't make sense," he explains.

Bale can have a great season

The forward will return to Madrid after playing in the European Championship with Wales, before deciding on his future. This season, Ancelotti has followed Bale's season at Tottenham closely while in charge of Everton, and assessed it at his first Real Madrid press conference this week. "He hasn't played a lot in the Premier League, but he has scored a lot of goals. He has been very effective in the last few games when he had had a run of games," he told the press.

"I know him well. If he has the motivation to play, he can have a great season, I have no doubts," Ancelotti added. Bale, 31, finished the season with 16 goals (11 in the Premier League) and three assists.