Gareth Bale Reiterates Frustration at Not Starting Champions League Final

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2018

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale with his winner's medal and a Welsh flag on the pitch as Real Madrid players celebrate winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. - Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Gareth Bale has said once again that he was "frustrated" not to be in Real Madrid's starting XI for the UEFA Champions League final back in May. 

Bale scored twice to help his side beat Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev, including netting a spectacular overhead kick.

Yet he's underlined how he didn't enjoy starting the match on the bench, per Katie Sands and Ian Mitchelmore of WalesOnline: "I was frustrated...not to start the game. But I knew I was capable of being involved in the game, and I was. It was great to get the goal. Pure emotion."

Bale's future could be decided soon, as James Robson of the Manchester Evening News reported talks are at an "advanced stage" for the attacker to join Manchester United.

United are reportedly keen on Bale.
United are reportedly keen on Bale.Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Robson noted how "Bale will have the ultimate say on whether he heads to Old Trafford." The player's mind could be swayed by how much Real intend to use him this season.

Bale originally made his feelings about not starting in Ukraine clear shortly after the game, even saying he and his agent would discuss his future at Real this summer, per AS:

"Obviously, I was very disappointed not to start the game. I felt that I deserved to, but it's the manager who makes the decisions. Obviously, I need to play every week, something that hasn't been the case this season. I was injured for five weeks, and I haven't been playing regularly. I'll have to sit down with my agent and talk about it."

The Wales international was referring to Zinedine Zidane, who has since stepped down as Real manager. Julen Lopetegui replaced the Frenchman following a controversial dismissal from the Spain national team just 48 hours before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Lopetegui could have different plans for Bale than predecessor Zidane.
Lopetegui could have different plans for Bale than predecessor Zidane.OSCAR DEL POZO/Getty Images

Lopetegui's appointment would appear to strengthen Bale's case to not only remain with Los Blancos but also to play a more prominent role this season. The 28-year-old started just 24 games across all competitions in the previous campaign, but he still managed to score 20 goals and chip in with four assists.

The new manager's plans for Bale should become clear soon, with Sergio Gomez of AS reporting talks could happen on Monday when the squad gets together ahead of the new season.

Bale's path to a regular place in the starting XI may be open after Cristiano Ronaldo signed a four-year deal with Juventus on Tuesday.

Like Ronaldo, Bale is a forward who thrives when attacking from wide areas and making runs from outside to in. He also has the pace, shooting power and aerial prowess Ronaldo used to become Real's all-time leading goalscorer.

Having sold Ronaldo, Real would be wise to keep Bale in the fold despite the former Tottenham Hotspur man's struggles with injuries since arriving in the Spanish capital for a then-world record £85.3 million fee back in 2013.

Bale has strong ties to the Premier League, but with Zidane and Ronaldo gone, he won't get a better chance to become the main man at a club with whom he's already won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and four Champions League trophies.

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