Gareth Bale loves Real Madrid and Real Madrid love Gareth - agent
Gareth Bale's recent fall down the pecking order at Real Madrid has not affected thinking over his future, the Wales international's agent has told ESPN FC.
Bale has 11 goals in 21 La Liga starts so far in an injury affected 2017-18, but the 28-year-old has only started two Champions League matches all season and was benched by coach Zinedine Zidane for both round-of-16 games against Paris Saint-Germain and the quarterfinal first leg against Juventus.
This is a new situation for the former Tottenham Hotspur player, whose starting place as one of the "BBC" attacking trio along with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo was generally assured when fit during his first four seasons at the Bernabeu. It has led to local media speculation that Madrid are looking to offload him back to the Premier League this summer, despite a contract running up to 2022.
Such speculation is completely baseless as both the player and the club remain firmly committed to each other, his representative Jonathan Barnett insisted.
"Gareth is a Real Madrid player and loves Real Madrid and Real Madrid love Gareth," Barnett told ESPN FC. "All this talk about leaving is written by reporters who have no idea what is going on and who need to write something and don't care if it is true or not."
Having spent the entire 90 minutes at Juve on the bench, Bale returned to the starting lineup for Sunday's La Liga derbi at home to Atletico Madrid, and provided the cross from which Ronaldo volleyed Madrid's goal in the 1-1 draw. However, it remains to be seen whether Zidane's thinking has changed, and Isco and Benzema are expected to displace him again for Wednesday's return leg against the Italian champions.
Speaking on Spanish radio show "El Transistor", former Madrid player, coach and sporting director Jorge Valdano said Bale had tried his best to impress against Atletico, but his problem was people expected too much given the then-world record fee paid to Tottenham back in 2013.
"[Bale's] movement was good, he gave the assist to Cristiano," Valdano said. "He gave me the feeling he wanted to take part in the play, show what he could do, for the entire 90 minutes. The problem is that nothing that Bale does is worth €100 million, and that is the figure he wears on his jersey."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan