Former Real Madrid manager Jorge Valdano believes Gareth Bale is not passionate enough and has failed to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Welsh winger returned from a calf injury on Sunday evening at the RCDE Stadium to score just three minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Bale’s goal helped seal Real a 4-2 La Liga win over RCD Espanyol to allow them to climb up to third-place and the standings.
However, the 29-year-old had been expected to stand up this season and fill Ronaldo’s boots at the Santiago Bernabeu after club’s record scorer left for Juventus in a €112m deal last July.
Now Valdano has questioned both Bale’s mentality and injury record with the Argentine stating that teenager Vinicius Jnr has instead been the one that’s help fill Ronaldo’s void.
“Bale has a tremendous class, but then he disappears, he shows less passion than other players,” Valdano told El Transistor de Onda Cero.
“Bale is a player who fights against his body, he does not look like a passionate player,” he added.
“He came to occupy the emptiness left by Cristiano and he has not, the one who has occupied that empty place is Vinicius.”
Valdano also took the opportunity to praise the in-form Karim Benzema after he found the net twice against Espanyol.
“Benzema is in a fantastic moment, he is a silky player, of an exquisite class and the confidence has made him dangerous,” added Valdano.
“The whistles have turned into applause and right now he is the greatest value of the team with [Sergio] Ramos and [Luka] Modric.
“Benzema is in the best moment of his career”.
Los Blancos will next travel to the Estadi Montilivi in Catalonia for the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final against Girona, which they hold a 4-2 aggregate lead in.