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How should Real Madrid replace Gareth Bale?

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If it’s time to move on, who needs to Gareth’s boots?

Real Madrid Training And Press Conference Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The Situation

No doubt the discussion around Real the past week has been Gareth Bale aggravating his injury further. He is set to miss more action than previously anticipated and now the transfer rumors are surging. With Bale consistently injuring himself, many fans are ready to move on from him. We’ll take a look at some possible replacements should he be moved out.

Admittedly, I am a Bale homer. I believe many Real fans, rather unfairly, have not given Gareth a proper chance, even though he’s been here for almost 5 years now. He’s faced a lot of criticism, especially with all the injuries the past few years. If the club and Perez have decided to move on from him, however, no doubt he has to be replaced. And, in my view, it can’t be Lucas Vasquez.

Ideally, you want someone who is as old or younger than Bale and is equal or better in the amount of skill.

Alexis Sanchez

The first player that comes to mind is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, who will turn 29 in December. He clearly wants out of Arsenal and doesn’t appear to be very happy playing under Arsene Wenger anymore. Rumors have linked him to Manchester City, mainly, which is where I think he will end up eventually. His contract is up in the summer and it’s highly likely that he will leave, whether it’s in January or on a free. And it seems if he has already chosen his destination, it’s likely he stays in the Premier League and moves to City.

If Real is interested in Sanchez though, I wouldn’t want him to replace Bale. Sanchez has been pretty poor so far this season, likely due to a lack of motivation. Regardless, I wouldn’t say he is better than Bale, even if he is more healthy. He dives, a lot, and he really just appears to be uninterested at times when he plays. While he’s a good player no doubt, I don’t think he’s a good replacement. He should stay in the Premier League for now and try and redo his career with City.

Lorenzo Insigne

Signing Insigne would be a complete win in my book. Two years younger than Bale and possibly one of the best Italian footballers, if not the best, right now. He and Napoli have been thriving in Serie A this season as they continually stay atop the table. While Insigne mainly plays on the left flank, he can play both wings as well as attacking midfield if needed. He’s pretty small, standing at just 5’4, but he’s fast which makes him a great speed threat when he gets in full flight.

Unfortunately, this one just isn’t very realistic. Napoli isn’t about to sell their best talent when they are in the Champions League and are first in Serie A. On the other hand, Insigne was born in Naples and grew up a Napoli supporter so it’s also unlikely the player wants to leave his boyhood club, even if it is Real. Perez could throw some money at Napoli and see if they would bite, but I don’t think signing Il Magnifico is in the cards, even though he’d be an improvement over the current Bale.

Eden Hazard

Like Insigne, another dream signing and 26 years of age. Hazard has repeatedly stated that he would love to play under Zidane, though it’s not known whether that means at Real or Zidane managing Chelsea. Also similar to Insigne, he is Chelsea’s top player and face of the club. If they lose him, their Champions League and Premier League chances go down the drain. While he also mainly plays on the left wing, it’s possible Zidane could switch he and Ronaldo around or try Hazard in Bale’s spot. I think he would definitely be an improvement over Bale as well.

Hazard has been consistently linked to Real the past few seasons and I would wager this is the most probable of any, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s likely. Ultimately it’s all in Eden’s hands, if he wants continue playing for Chelsea he will. Alternatively, if he wants to play for Real he will try to force a move. The best selling point Perez has is Zidane, if Hazard really wants to play under him he has to make the move. Unlike the previous two, I can actually see Hazard in a Real white kit.

Neymar

This is the big one. Real have been linked with Neymar the last few days because he is supposedly unhappy with PSG now. In my personal opinion, despite his immense skill, I don’t want this club to touch Neymar with a ten foot pole. His ego would clearly clash with Ronaldo’s and that’s a recipe for disaster, considering it would probably convince Ronaldo to get transferred out. Neymar is selfish, which showed in the whole Cavani- penalty kick drama.

His attitude isn’t one that is meant for a club with a franchise player like Ronaldo already. The whole reason he left Barca was to get away from Messi’s shadow and become the face of PSG. If he’s supposedly already giving up on that, who’s to say he won’t fight with Ronaldo since he has a massive ego too. While Neymar and Ronaldo would be great together skill-wise, it’s just destined for failure unless he’s the replacement for CR7. The latest rumor by The Guardian has Real swapping Bale and Kroos for Neymar, which is completely idiotic and would take an entire article to address in itself.

Closing Thoughts

While I’d love to see either Hazard or Insigne at Real, it just doesn’t seem probable at this point. Obviously, things can drastically change from now until the summer. I would assume Bale’s situation won’t be addressed until the summer because none of these players would be available in January, except for Sanchez who is probably moving to City. Getting more feasible players like Werner doesn’t fill the Bale void, it fills the Benzema void.

I think Bale’s price tag has alot to do with his criticism, and it’s correct to a point. When he’s fully healthy, he’s still a top player as he showed before his injury this season. I’d give him until the summer to try and smooth things out before actually selling him and finding a replacement. There’s just a clear void when he is missing and that could be a reason why both Benzema and Ronaldo haven’t been scoring much in La Liga. Eventually the club will move on, but they shouldn’t rush Bale back in the meantime. Meanwhile, he is still a Real player and the club needs to make sure he heals well and doesn’t rush him back. When he returns, if he returns, see what he can do before the summer transfer period to try and get his game back. If he re-injures himself, shows poor form, or happens to be out the rest of the season, sell him.