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What can we expect from Gareth Bale this year?

Bale's season, highlighted by his game winning goals in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League Finals, was good. However, contrary to the statistics- it was not great.

Michael Regan

24 goals and 18 assists- a great season for most players. However, Gareth Bale is not most players. It's no secret that Bale disappears during long stretches of most games, only to be rediscovered whizzing down the flank and wreaking havoc for the opposition. This inconsistency is frustrating and leaves much to be desired of the immensely talented Welshman. To make matters worse, there is a literal catalog of chances that Bale squandered in both the Copa Final and the Champions League Final. Yet, to his credit, he has deservedly won over the Bernabeu with his knack for the clutch and spectacular.

So how can Real Madrid push Bale to his full, and frankly frightening potential? A proper preseason is a good start. With his heart set on forcing a move to Madrid, Bale skipped out on Tottenham's preseason and arrived in Madrid only days before the start of the campaign. His rustiness, paired with a new culture and surrounding, showed in his poor play-it is hard to even recall Bale even touching the ball at the Camp Nou. His season obviously improved from this low point, at no point did he ever seem to be totally in sync with his teammates.

Bale's lack of comfort can not only be attributed to his lack of preseason, but also constant niggling muscle injuries. As to be expected with such a dynamic, powerful player, Bale was prone to constant niggling injuries and was never 100% fit during the 2013-2014 season. Coincidentally, neither were many of his teammates- likely a result of the horrendous medical care that Sanitas provides the club. Hopefully, Bale's protracted summer vacation has allowed his muscles to recover fully and his injury woes will be behind him.

With the circumstances clearly stacked against his favor, Bale still did manage to produce on the field. What makes his production even more impressive is that it was in an entirely new position, on the righthand side of the pitch. Playing on the right will be essential for Bale to reach his full potential, allowing him to maximize his dynamite left foot. He was clearly uncomfortable on the right last season, but his ability to cut in and link up with Benzema and Cristiano was and will be the crux of Real Madrid's blistering counterattacks.

So much could have gone wrong for Gareth Bale. Most British players usually flop abroad- especially with record price tags, no preseason and constant injuries. Yet somehow, Gareth Bale absolutely did not flop. The Welshman gave us a peek of the spectacular footballer he is capable of becoming, and with a year under his belt in Madrid you can certainly expect Bale to blossom next year.

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