It is past the halfway stage of the Liga season and it is an interesting situation, as Gareth Bale has played only 51 percent of the minutes of games for Real Madrid in La Liga and Champions League. The Spanish press are starting to count the minutes that he is missing.
It has been a tough time for Bale. There have been five situations where he has not been able to play. In two or three cases, having been called into the team, Bale has pulled out after speaking with coach Carlo Ancelotti and the doctors. It happened in the cup game with Atletico Madrid this week, after which it was explained that they wanted to hold him back for the league game as Ronaldo is missing for the next three league games on account of suspension.
If that was the case, why call him up in the first place? He actually travelled to the stadium.
Everyone within the club was asked about it and they said it was all planned, but the fact is Bale did not feel 100 percent and they wanted to give him more time to recover.
It has happened before and Bale wants to feel 100 percent ready to play. You cannot blame him as there is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Also that is how he feels his body should be: 100 percent.
He is so explosive in his play that if he has a worry or does not feel he can push to the limit then his performance will be inhibited.
But having said all that, his ratio of goals per minutes played is practically equal to Jese. The Spanish press, tough, are protecting Jese. It is rare to see a young kid coming through from the Madrid youth ranks. The last one to make it all the way was Iker Casillas, so there is a lot of excitement there.
In the media, the debate continues about how much he cost. I agreed with Tottenham in that it was €101 million, which makes him the most expensive player in the world. Real say it was €91 million, which is below Ronaldo’s transfer.
His goals are helping him, but the tricks he showed in the Premier League are not helping him. It is difficult for him to get one versus one in Spain, as there are layers of defending whereby he beats one defender there is always another one waiting.
Also, he likes to cut inside and he is finding that hard. But he is at least finding good attacking positions.
His biggest problem is linking up with his team-mates. He has not got that in him yet. Sometimes you do not always have to go forward, you can be patient, and adapting to that is not easy for him.
I always felt this was going to be a tough first campaign for him, he did not have a full pre-season, but what he can do is keep helping the team.
There is a false debate between Jese and Bale. Every time Bale is fit, he will play, but it is good that Jese is actually taking the challenge on and trying to impress.
For all the debate, it is positive for Real that they have two great attacking options to support Ronaldo.
If they win the title, it will not matter whether Bale cost €101 million or €91 million, it will be deemed a success.