• Players back Bale and insist out-of-favour Welshman needs to be in their team.
• Casemiro and Thibaut Courtois said Bale ‘has to play’ and the squad ‘love him’.
Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid team-mates have backed the Welshman to succeed at the Bernabeu despite a summer of uncertainty in which he came close to leaving.
He fell out with boss Zinedine Zidane and almost headed to China on a stunning £1million-a-week deal, but was back in the team for Real’s La Liga opener. After a topsy-turvy summer, Bale has now been praised by two of his team-mates, with Casemiro and Thibaut Courtois sending Zidane a clear message about what the players think.
Speaking after their 3-1 win over Celta Vigo, Casemiro said: ‘He has given us titles, he’s scored in finals and he has a lot of respect from us all.
“He has to play. He’s a great player and is very important for us.”
It was much the same from former Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois, who added: “He is an important player and played a great match. Everyone loves him and it is important that he plays for us. We are so happy with Bale.”
Few expected the Welsh forward to start at the weekend, but he was included in the first-team and played a vital role in Karim Benzema’s opener.
When he was substituted midway through the second half, he was acknowledged by Zidane before taking his place on the bench.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Frenchman was asked about Bale in his post-match interviews, and he insisted a move away is no longer on the table.
“He is going to stay. We have to focus on this season, nothing else,” the coach explained. “Hazard’s injury is bad luck for us, but it has not changed the idea we had for Bale in this game. Gareth, James [Rodriguez] and all the players here are going to defend this shirt.”