Former Wales boss John Toshack is worried that Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale's injury problems are "hindering" him in the Spanish capital amid rumours of a return to the Premier League with Manchester United.
Bale, 28, has won three Champions League trophies during his stint with Madrid but his spell with the 12-time European Cup winners has been blighted by injury. The former Tottenham talisman made an impressive start to the new campaign, scoring three goals and providing three assists in La Liga and Europe's premier club competition.
But the Welshman's season has once again been disrupted by fitness issues, which forced him out of his country's crucial World Cup qualifiers. Chris Coleman's men could not raise their game to compensate for the absence of their star striker and as a result missed out on a place in Russia.
Toshack, who handed Bale his Wales debut over a decade ago, thinks the former Southampton youth graduate should be enjoying the best days of his career –but is instead wondering if his compatriot will be a Real Madrid player for much longer, with Manchester United said to be interested.
"His injuries are probably hindering him now," Toshack told El Larguero. "He has missed so many matches and despite Real Madrid winning so many matches and trophies, it must be hugely frustrating.
"Should he move to another club? Only people at Real Madrid will know about this but the demands at the Bernabeu are very, very high. If you are less than 100% physically fit, it becomes even harder.
"He is now 28 and 11 years after making his debut with me at 17, these should be the best years of his life.
"The entire BBC [Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo] now has problems and for various reasons, such as others now coming through, I'm unsure we'll see much more of them together from now on."
With the emergence of Marco Asensio and growing influence of Isco at the Bernabeu, Madrid may indeed soon rid themselves of Bale and are reportedly ready to sell him to Manchester United for around £89.3m.
United were believed to be interested in the versatile attacker this summer but a move never came to fruition, though Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho is still on the lookout for another creative player who can both on the wings and through the middle.