Life for Gareth Bale at Real Madrid isn't as bad as is being made out, and some blame for the way his career there has panned out must fall with the Welsh international and his agent.
Those were the views of Spanish football journalist Graham Hunter on OTB AM this morning, as we reflected on a season that hasn't been a personal success for Bale.
Despite scoring over 100 goals for Madrid and helping the club to four Champions League titles, his relationship with Zinedine Zidane appears to have soured.
Fans were infuriated recently when Bale was seen falling asleep on the bench during a 2-0 win over Alaves. And Hunter made the point that life isn't too bad for him in the Spanish capital.
"The management of an asset of Bale's worth by Real Madrid hasn't looked particularly good, but he fits into a category, and it's a horrible trait that football has shown... when you refuse to leave, once the Bosman rule stopped clubs cheating you in exactly the way they wanted at the end of a contract, the gloves came off and clubs became something very close to bullies.
"Bale's been in that situation for some seasons, and the balance of power has tilted. There were seasons where Madrid said 'Go and talk to Manchester United', and he did, he spoke to Mourinho about going to Manchester United in those days.
"That was the season when Mourinho in the summer tour greeted him by saying 'I can't sign you because you won't come out speaking out and saying you wanted to leave'.
"With the exception of his individual relationship with Zidane, which is no worse than cold, cool... and with the exception of him not playing, life for Gareth Bale in Madrid is pretty good.
"There's another trophy, there are bonuses, there's golf, the weather's fantastic, he's still got some respect from a good handful of his teammates."
Hunter added that a lot of the negative attention around Bale's sulking his been levelled at his club, but some of the blame must fall squarely at the feet of player and agent.
Ready ⚽️💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/6EYiVmg35H
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) June 13, 2020
"He's 31, he's still a very good athlete. Madrid have long wanted to get him out to cut his wages, to re-use the money they could get for him in order to clear some of his debt or spend it on other players.
"But the places Gareth Bale is willing to go to... his agent asked to be allowed to go free to China. This is where I begin to lose support for a very good footballer, who initially was underrated in what he was achieving in Spain, and deserved far more credit, but who between him and his agent... the way in which they've confronted the problem has been a little bit like recalcitrant teenagers.
"I don't like that, I don't respect that. I'm far more pointing the finger at [his agent] Jonathan Barnett than Gareth Bale. This problem could and should have been resolved with each side giving a little bit.
"We're talking about Bale not because we're Welsh, not because we desire the national team to do well, not because we're Madridistas, but because Gareth Bale remains an intriguing, exciting, international-class footballer. And right now we're seeing some of his golden years dribbling away.
"None of us as neutrals, who are desperate to see the elite footballers do special things, want to see that. It bugs me that Madrid are being singled out alone as the odd ones in this partnership, because that's not true."