Statements attributed to Zinedine Zidane over the past weekend in relation to Gareth Bale were definitive.
Like it or not, the Frenchman left no room for doubt. The Welshman’s time at Real Madrid is at an end.
There’s been an awful lot written already about how harshly treated the winger has been, but let’s be clear, Real have form where exits are concerned.
One of their greatest ever players, Iker Casillas, reduced to tears in a press conference with no one of note from the club there to support him. A more gracious goodbye only came about because of public pressure.
Raul had much the same treatment too. Business is business and all that. There’s no room for sentiment.
That’s particularly true in Zidane’s case because the pressure is on him like never before.
His last season in the hot seat at the Bernabeu was horrific overall, and even when he took the reins back from Santiago Solari 10 months after he left, nothing he did until the end of the last campaign was noteworthy.
Aside from Bale, James Rodriguez is soon to be sold; two players who could have a real impact for Zidane. Ditto Isco.
In any event, despite his protestations that he would just play golf for the remainder of his Madrid contract, Bale must accept his fate and revitalise his career elsewhere.
At the time of writing, there is interest from home and abroad for the most successful British player to have ever played in the Spanish top flight.
Though a switch to China from a professional standpoint isn’t the best, a deal with either Jiangsu Suning or Shanghai Shenhua is likely to see him made the first player in history to earn a cool £1m per week!
Assuming Bale prefers to return to British shores, his former club, Tottenham Hotspur, would appear to be willing to offer him an escape route.
Manchester United have also been mentioned as a possible destination, but no serious interest has been registered at this stage.
As good as Bale has been for Los Blancos, to then end his tenure on such a sour note is a shame. He deserves better. Much better.
In truth though, this D-Day has been inevitable for some while now and as Zidane rightly noted, it’s better for all concerned if the ties are cut.
It’s the biggest of calls from Zidane, and only time will tell if he’s made the right one or not.