I have to assume that Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach Paul Clement had his tongue firmly in his tongue firmly in his cheek when he said that Gareth Bale is not guaranteed a starting berth in the team.
You don’t spend a world record €100m to sign Bale to put him on the bench despite Clement’s warning that Bale will have to earn his place on the pitch.
“There’s a lot of competition for places – no-one will be guaranteed anything,” Englishman Clement told the BBC this week.
“Coach Carlo Ancelotti has a clear idea how to use him but things can change.
“His role in the team? Carlo is flexible enough to use Gareth and other players in different capacities.
“At Southampton, Bale played at left-back which he also did at Spurs where he became a more left-sided player.
“He recently became more central. He’s got that versatility.
“It’ll be interesting to see how players fit in together. We’ll be trying to find their best position and what’s best for the team as quickly as possible.
“Gareth has the goalscoring talent and ability to set up goals for others. We have a lot of exciting players here. [Karim] Benzema is a great talent, while Isco plays in midfield but has chipped in with three goals already.”
Eyes are already on Madrid’s next League fixtyre, Week 4’s trip out to Villarreal, which could see Bale debut.
“Depending on how much or little he plays will depend whether he trains a week on Wednesday or Thursday leading into the first game at Villarreal away.”
Clement, like Bale, is facing the challenge of learning Spanish this season to adapt to Madrid.
“It’s more challenging for a coach and manager than a player. Communication is everything – you have to instruct and organise.
“It’s up to Gareth to learn. A lot of players start having lessons at the club when they arrive. [Croatian] Luka Modric, who played with Gareth at Tottenham, had some lessons initially – he speaks in Spanish and English with the players.
“I’m sure Gareth will do the same. He spoke some lines during the news conference. It’s a great life quality if he knuckles down and learns. Our communication with the team as a whole will be in Spanish.”