Gareth Bale returns to Real Madrid squad

Gareth Bale is Real Madrid’s most expensive player

Gareth Bale is set to make his first appearance since November after being passed fit for Real Madrid’s match at home to Espanyol on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Wales forward has been out since having surgery on ankle tendon damage suffered in November.

Wales’ next match is a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland in Dublin on 24 March.

“He will be in the squad and the plan is for him to have some minutes,” Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said.

Madrid are top of the Spanish league by one point from Barcelona, but Zidane’s side have two games in hand. Barca play at home to fourth-from-bottom Leganes later on Saturday.

“Bale is a very important player for us. We know the quality and speed that he has, and the damage he can cause the opposition,” Frenchman Zidane added.

“He’s very happy to return to the team, to be with us, and be able to play again.”

Espanyol, managed by former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, are ninth in La Liga, 17 points behind Madrid.

Bale joined Madrid in September 2013 from Tottenham for an undisclosed fee.

The media at the time reported the transfer value at figures between €91 million and €100 million.

In January 2016, documents pertaining to the transfer were leaked which confirmed a then-world record transfer fee of €100.8 million, eclipsing the previous record fee of £80 million (€94 million) for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

Bale played an integral role in his first season at Real Madrid, helping the club to win the 2013–14 Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League, scoring in both finals.

The following season he won the UEFA Super Cup and scored in a third major final to help the club win the FIFA Club World Cup

Two years later, he was a key player in another Champions League run, winning the 2015–16 title and being elected to the UEFA Squad of the Season.

In 2016, ESPN ranked Bale twelfth on its list of the world’s most famous athletes.

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