Bale still has plenty to offer – just maybe not for Real Madrid

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The Welsh winger hit the opener against Leganes and was a lively presence throughout. It is unlikely to be enough to save his career in Spain, though

Gareth Bale's time at Real Madrid appears to be veering towards an inevitable end.

Often a man misunderstood by fans of Los Blancos and also the media here, there is a sense he will not be remembered as fondly as perhaps he should be.

Always in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real, he has also struggled with injuries and this season has seen him fall behind Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez in the pecking order. These days, he only seems to starts for Madrid's second string.

Yet he still has much to offer. On Saturday, it was Bale who opened the scoring in a 2-1 win over Leganes for a much-changed Madrid side with more than one eye on Tuesday night's Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.

Coach Zinedine Zidane showed exactly where his priorities lay by picking a string of reserve players, including Marcos Llorente, Jesus Vallejo, Borja Mayoral, Kiko Casilla and Theo Hernandez.

Bale, bought for a record €100m in the summer of 2013, was signed for more elite occasions than this.

But after failing to make it off the bench in Munich on Wednesday, he was included in the line-up for this awkwardly timed (ahead of Tuesday's return against the German side) and almost meaningless match in La Liga, with Real's only aim now in the Primera Division to catch second-placed Atletico.

"I have to make choices and I have some very good players in my squad," Zidane said in the build-up to this game when asked about Bale. "There are still more games to come and I'll be relying on him. It's not true that I don't play him."

Bale, to his credit, was eager to impress against a Leganes side without a win away from home in their last 10 league games, but that had knocked Real out of the Copa del Rey at the Bernabeu earlier on in the season.

The Welsh winger started on the right and ended up on the left and it was he who opened the scoring for Real with an acrobatic effort from close range which had initially looked offside.

RM Leganes score

However, replays showed he was probably in line and onside at the time of Karim Benzema's original shot. The goal counted, in any case, and was his 12th in La Liga this season – a decent return considering he has only started 17 games.

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It was his 15th strike of the campaign overall and was the fourth time in his five campaigns that he had reached that mark for Real.

Later on, he won warm applause for attempting to volley past the Leganes goalkeeper from close to the halfway line, while he also curled a fizzing effort just over the bar in the second half.

The quality is still there and even though it looks too late for him to salvage his career in Spain, the 28-year-old can be a very valuable player for someone in 2018-19. Just probably not for Real Madrid.

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