The most extraordinary transfer saga of the summer finally has a conclusion, with Gareth Bale unveiled at the Bernabeu after Real Madrid agreed to pay a world record £86m for the forward.
However Bale’s story at Madrid is just beginning and the 24-year-old’s first task is an unenviable one – forcing his way into a first team where he is no longer the star man.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have not always dazzled so far this season, but they have won three out of three in La Liga, and their attacking players have all been impressive.
Isco, another expensive summer signing, has three goals and one assist in three games, while Angel Di Maria has started the past two matches to good effect on the right flank.
Ahead of them Karim Benzema has two goals and two assists, and the other man is Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his 202nd goal in 202 games for Madrid against Athletic Bilbao.
Even with Mesut Ozil leaving, there is a surfeit of quality in Madrid’s ranks, with young stars Jese Rodrigues and Alvaro Morata also expected to make an impact on the first team this season.
One option could be to push Isco deeper in the formation to accommodate Bale, but that means displacing one of Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso (when fit) or Asier Illarramendi, another recent addition.
Clearly Madrid have not spent £86m on someone to sit on the bench, and of the players above Angel Di Maria is the likeliest to face the chop.
If Di Maria is set for a reduced role, then he could still try and move before the end of the window, with Arsenal priced at 5/2 to sign the Argentine along with their likely move for Ozil.
This would mean Bale starting on the right of Madrid’s attack, where he often drifted to in the latter part of matches towards the end of last season with Spurs.
It is not a completely unfamiliar position for Bale, and one that allows him to cut inside onto his stronger foot to unleash the devastating long shots that became his trademark last season.
Another option could be to move Ronaldo up front to accommodate Bale on the left, but displacing the Portuguese forward would be a bizarre decision given his incredible output in his current position, meaning Di Maria might well be on the market.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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