Gareth Bale hinted a summer move away from Real Madrid could be on the cards after stepping off the bench to make a record-breaking contribution to an historic Champions League victory over Liverpool.
The Wales international has been heavily linked with a big-money switch elsewhere after seeing form and fitness issues plague another season in the Spanish capital.
He was left on the bench for Madrid’s biggest game of the season in Kiev on Saturday, but entered the fray just after the hour mark to change the course of the tie with a match-winning brace.
Having shown what he is capable of, the 28-year-old conceded afterwards that – amid much talk of interest from the likes of Manchester United and Bayern Munich – he will have to weigh up his options when the transfer window re-opens.
Bale told BT Sport : “I need to be playing week in, week out, it hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another. I need to sit down in the summer and discuss things with my agent and take things from there.”
He added on being left out of Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI for the fourth Champions League final of his Madrid career: “Very disappointed not to start the game. I felt like I deserved it. The best I could do is come on and make an impact and that’s what I did.”
Bale needed just 122 seconds to make an impact after replacing Isco, with a stunning overhead kick restoring Madrid’s lead on the night .
He would go on to net his second and the Blancos’ third seven minutes from time to wrap up a hat-trick of continental triumphs for European football’s most successful club.
“We know what we have achieved and we know how good we have been. It’s turned out to be a great season winning the Champions League,” said Bale.
Bale also admitted that his acrobatic goal against Liverpool is the best of his career to date, with that strike helping him to his own piece of history.
A second effort, which dipped and swerved from distance to slip through the grasp of Loris Karius – who endured a nightmare evening in the Liverpool goal – saw the Welshman become the first player to bag a brace off the bench in a European Cup final.
1 – Gareth Bale is the first substitute to score a brace in an European Cup/Champions League final. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/nKgKRTvsha
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 26, 2018
That would be some way to sign off if he is to leave Madrid this summer, with there sure to be no shortage of takers if Bale is to be made available on the open market.