Just 25 days ago Zinedine Zidane was on the crucible and his job was in jeopardy. A turbulent start to the season and let go of some big names from the squad raised a few eyebrows. But the Madrid boss steadied the ship and somewhat brought stability to the squad. Before the start of the season, Real Madrid let go of Gareth Bale on Loan to Tottenham, sold James Rodriguez to Everton, and decided to extend the loan period of Dani Ceballos at Arsenal for one more year. No one can say Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane doesn't make decisions and the Frenchman had to make three big ones this summer with regards to his playing squad.
These Three players were, perhaps surprisingly given their quality, let go in the summer, but time has shown Zidane to have made the right call in deciding to proceed without Dani Ceballos, James Rodriguez, or Gareth Bale.
Why Zidane was right to bench them while they were at Madrid and how time proved him right again? It’s a question that seems to have answered itself at this time of the season.
Dani Ceballos: Benched at Arsenal
The young midfielder has excellent technical qualities and Mikel Arteta wanted him to dictate the tempo of his Arsenal team. He was supposed to be the creator for them and fill the shoes left (!) by Mesut Özil. However, the Gunners are enduring a rocky start to the season and the 24-year-old Spaniard has been unable to steer them to safety. He struggling to find his way back into Arteta’s faith. Ceballos is an excellent work rate. It would be really upset if his loan season were to be failed like this.
Curiously, Arsenal's reaction came on Saturday in a 3-1 win over Chelsea, with Ceballos an unused substitute.
If Arteta sticks to his newfound winning formula then things might go downhill from here. Because comparatively the easier group matches of Europa League are over and Arsenal are out of EFL cup. Arsenal are certainly looking to crawl its way up the table from the relegation zone. So, if Ceballos couldn’t enter Arteta’s pecking order soon, it won’t do good for his dream Real Madrid return.
Los Blancos have an eye on Ceballos' progress as he will return from his loan in the summer, but with Luka Modric's renewal and the possibility of other signings things aren't looking good for the former Real Betis man.
James Rodriguez: From heaven to hell
James Rodriguez introduced himself to the Premier League in spectacular fashion. He could have wished for no better figure than Carlo Ancelotti to take him under his wing and give him his confidence back. He announced himself in style and Zidane was heavily criticised for letting go of a player of his quality. It was indeed a valid argument. The Colombian responded his parting with Los Blancos with goals and assists that had Everton flying high in the early part of the campaign. But the intensity of Premier League got the better of him very early proving once again why Zidane’s couldn’t afford a fragile player on his ranks.
After returning from injury in recent weeks, however, James has seen a dip in form, coinciding with poor results with his national team. He was always criticised for not working hard enough for Madrid. There were question marks over his consistency. But after his return to Madrid from a loan spell at Bayern, the player really wanted to prove something. He was working hard and definitely wanted to be part of the Frenchmen’s rebuilding of the Real Madrid side. But Zidane was spot on and confronted that James is not in his plan and pushed the Colombian to English Football.
The criticism now coming his way in England and the highlight why Zidane chose to show the Colombian the door.
Gareth Bale: Still injury prone
Perhaps the most misunderstood player in recent times to wear a Real Madrid jersey. The player who won 4 Champions League with them and was part of an incredible run with them, his time at Santiago Bernabeu after that was cold. Gareth Bale was very injury prone from the start of his career and there was always a question mark over his consistency. But when Cristiano Ronaldo left, he was supposed to the main man for Madrid alongside Karim Benzema. While the latter flourished under the responsibility, Gareth crumbled under. So does his name in the pecking order of Zidane. Zidane always publicly is so vocal about his support for Gareth Bale, but on his return spell as Madrid boss contradicted his statement. Soon Bale was out of favor with Zidane. With wage budgetary constrictions Madrid loaned him out to Tottenham.
The Welshman arrived at Spurs injured and that already caused doubts to emerge, concerns which proved to be well-founded as Bale hasn't been able to make himself a regular in Jose Mourinho's side, which will have frustrated both of them.
Bale has scored in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, and the Europa League, but only once in each competition, and his performances have been below the level expected of him when he arrived. The 31-year-old picked up another injury in the Europa League and it is not yet known when he will return.
Further uncertainty lies in his Real Madrid future, with his value having dropped even lower during this loan spell in North London. But whatever it may, Zidane was actually right to let Bale go from Madrid.