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Do Real Madrid already have their Ronaldo replacement in Gareth Bale?

Daniel Anwar | 30 July 2018

It’ll be hard to sign a new superstar now

Real Madrid have been linked with some of the biggest names in the game this summer as they search for a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

They’re Evens to get Eden Hazard, but it’ll be tough to convince Chelsea to sell with less than two weeks of the transfer window left in England.

It’s 13/8 that they sign Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, while a potential move for Kylian Mbappe feels like a non-starter at this point. PSG won’t have any intention of selling the World Cup winner.

Rather than bringing someone in, Madrid may already have the ideal Ronaldo replacement in their ranks – Gareth Bale.

The Welsh forward is 5/1 to join Manchester United or 8/1 to return to Tottenham Hotspur, but he could have a huge role to play at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.

Main man

Bale has won four Champions League titles and La Liga during his time in Spain. He’s got 70 goals in 126 league appearances for the club. And he’s arguably scored the best-ever goals in the Champions League and Copa del Rey Finals.

Despite all of that, Madrid haven’t seen the 29-year-old at his best often enough. There have been calls for him to go in the last couple of years. He’s struggled with injuries. The team had a better balance when Isco started in his place too.

But the biggest problem of all was Cristiano Ronaldo. It seemed there was only room for Bale or Ronaldo at the club. Now there is only Bale.

Ronaldo’s move to Juventus means the 29-year-old could be about to have his best season for the Champions League holders yet.

When Bale and Ronaldo played together, Bale averaged a perfectly respectable 0.46 goals per game. Without Ronaldo, his return almost doubles to 0.81 goals per game.

Now the team will be set up to get the best out of him, rather than Ronaldo, he could improve on those numbers even further.

Fresh start

In the immediate aftermath of his spectacular double in the Champions League Final win over Liverpool, Bale suggested he could be looking to move on this summer.

He only made 20 starts in La Liga last season, despite being fit for most of it. He featured in league action much more regularly in the second-half of the campaign, but only when the title was out of sight and the Champions League became the main focus.

Zinedine Zidane was very good for Real Madrid, taking over at a low point and leading them to three consecutive Champions League wins. But he wasn’t necessarily good for Bale as an individual.

There have been reports that they had a very cold relationship. And the former Spurs star tended to be left out in the big games. He only made one start in the Champions League knockout stages last term, in the quarter-final second-leg against Juventus, when he was hauled off at half-time.

Now that Julen Lopetegui has taken over, Bale can start afresh under a new manager.

No Ronaldo. No Zidane. No excuses now. This is Bale’s chance to become the most important player at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

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