Gareth Bale impressed on his return to action for Real Madrid as a substitute in a 2-2 pre-season draw with Roma.
The Wales international, who was expected to leave the Spanish giants this summer after falling out of favour with boss Zinedine Zidane, came on for the last 30 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico.
Bale saw Madrid president Florentino Perez pull the plug on a big-money move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning a fortnight ago.
The 30-year-old scored in the penalty shoot-out which decided the winners of the Mabel Green Cup, but Madrid lost 5-4.
Bale will now hope to be involved in the squad for Real’s first LaLiga game of the season against Celta Vigo next weekend.
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Despite rumblings to the contrary, Zinedine Zidane is in control of Real Madrid’s transfer policy – and not the Los Blancos board.
A report in Marca insists that the men upstairs have been dancing to Zidane’s tune during a summer transfer window that has already seen Real spend upwards of €300 million.
Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard, Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy, Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic, Porto centre-back Eder Militao and Brazilian wonderkid Rodrygo have already passed through the gates at the Bernabeu.
The club’s pursuit of Zidane’s top target, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, remains a sticking point – but it is not for the want of trying, according to Marca.
Zidane has also instructed the money men to find new homes for Gareth Bale, James Rodiguez and Mariano Diaz, as Zidane looks to trim his squad ahead of the La Liga kick-off next weekend.
Madrid open up their campaign at Celta Vigo on Saturday August 17 and can expect to have Militao and Casemiro back fit.
Toni Kroos is not expecting any quick fixes to happen for Real Madrid this year – despite the club spending more than €300 million on new transfers.
Los Blancos have brought in Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, striker Luka Jovic from Frankfurt, Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy, Porto defender Eder Militao and added another exciting Brazilian in 18-year-old Rodrygo this summer.
It is a pointed response to a miserable campaign last year in which their glorious Champions League run came to an emphatic end against Ajax, while they finished 19 points behind Barcelona’s pace in La Liga.
Zidane could not arrest the slump when he took the reins back over in March – and a repeat of last season’s performances will be untenable.
However, Germany midfielder Kroos admits that rediscovering the form that led the club to three successive Champions League titles will be no mean feat.
“It is not easy to take the team back to where Zidane left it, it is difficult to reach that level.
“Our team was in a different situation when Zidane returned in mid-March of 2019 compared to when he left the team in May 2018,” Kroos told German Magazine Kicker.
“We want to play better football, and more consistently. That’s important because, after you do that, the rest comes by itself.
“If you play better, you’ll be in the fight for the titles.”
Despite their spending splurge, Real have been hampered by several injuries during pre-season, not least with the news that Spain forward Marco Asensio is expected to miss most of the campaign.
Jovic, who scored 25 goals for Frankfurt last year, also had a minor setback.
But Kroos added: He has integrated well. He had bad luck with the injury.
“Jovic is an option who will make us stronger with what he is best at: scoring goals.”