Gareth Bale Praised by Casemiro, Thibaut Courtois After Real Madrid Comeback

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 18, 2019

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the Spanish League football match between Celta Vigo and Real Madrid at the Balaidos Stadium in Vigo on August 17, 2019. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Gareth Bale made a successful return to Real Madrid's XI as they began La Liga with a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday

After, the player received plaudits from team-mates Casemiro and Thibaut Courtois.

Bale, 30, started in the visit to Celta despite a rocky summer of transfer speculation and assisted Karim Benzema for the opening goal. The Welshman played 75 minutes as Los Blancos began their league campaign with a win on the board, and Bale's contribution didn't go unnoticed.

Casemiro spoke to reporters after the result and said: "He [Bale] has given us titles, he's scored in finals and he has a lot of respect from us all. He has to play. He's a great player and is very important for us."

Zinedine Zidane's return as Real manager in March was considered by some to be the beginning of the end for Bale at the Santiago Bernabeu. The pair are said to share a frosty relationship, and Zidane appeared in favour of an exit in July when he said he it would be "best for everyone" if Bale left soon.

Around one month later, Zidane's attitude towards an exit appears to have drastically changed. He spoke at a press conference following Real's victory and said Bale would be staying in Madrid this season, via Sky Sports:

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

Zinedine Zidane has confirmed Gareth Bale will be staying at the club now, after he inspired Real Madrid's victory against Celta Vigo yesterday. Match report: https://t.co/aNZTaYMBZk https://t.co/tcesm9ADxO

AFP's Tom Allnutt noted the tactician also showed appreciation on the sideline:

Tom Allnutt @TomAllnuttAFP

Bale off for Isco with 15 left, Zidane gives him a hand slap and a pat on the chest. Lovely. 0-2, 75.

Like Casemiro, those fighting in Bale's corner in Madrid have cited his record of scoring in important matches and helping Real clinch titles during his six-year stay as reason why he should remain.

His scissor-kick volley against Liverpool in the 2018 UEFA Champions League final—when Real won 3-1—is largely considered one of the best European goals in history:

Bale remaining at Real thus far can also be attributed in part to the fact he earns a reported £350,000 per week after tax. Attracting a buyer to take on a player of Bale's age with such high cost is difficult, and agent Jonathan Barnett said in July the player could well see out his contract until 2022.

Courtois added: "He is an important player and played a great match. Everyone loves him and it is important that he plays for us. We are so happy with Bale."

Praise from Real's goalkeeper is particularly encouraging after Courtois has been critical of his team-mate in the past.

The former Chelsea stopper said in February that Real's squad nicknamed Bale "The Golfer" due to the amount of time he spends away from football golfing. Courtois also highlighted he found it odd the Wales winger has a strict bedtime rather than socialising with his team-mates.

Bale had no problem revelling in Real's success alongside his squadmates Saturday:

Gareth Bale @GarethBale11

Vamos! Great start to the season! ⚪️🔝#HalaMadrid https://t.co/EFTthHG210

Barcelona lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao as their title defence got off to a faltering start, much to Real's pleasure.

Zidane and the team seem to have rallied behind Bale following the decision for him to remain in Madrid this season, preserving the talents of a player who can surely aid their silverware aspirations.