Gareth Bale has certainly had a week to remember as his two goals helped Wales to a crucial victory in Israel to keep them right on course for European Championship qualification.
Yet away from all the happiness that the international break has provided, there is still plenty of speculation regarding his club future at Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Despite claims from president Florentino Perez this week that the Welsh star will not be sold at any price this summer, the former Tottenham man continues to be linked with a move away from the Bernabeu and a big-money transfer back to the Premier League with either Chelsea or Manchester United.
And while he will still feel he has plenty to offer the reigning European champions, the prospect of a return to England is certainly one he should consider over the summer.
Since the turn of the year Real Madrid’s results and performances have well and truly gone downhill. And somewhat unfairly Bale has taken much of the criticism as he continues his struggle to win over Los Blancos fans, something he is yet to do since arriving for a world-record £86m back in 2013.
Recent performances for Madrid have highlighted a clear lack of confidence, as the pressure to impress continues to grow. You just have to look at his performance for Wales last weekend to notice the difference. Bale played with the freedom and confidence that has seen him become of the world’s best players. He was the heart of everything good Wales did that day, and his two goals were just reward for a superb performance. He was the focal point in the side, just like his days at Spurs, and this is when you get best from him.
But with the array of stars around him at Madrid; and in particular Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale doesn’t get this freedom and this has a huge impact on his performances. Ronaldo is the main man and it’s hard to see a way in which both can thrive in a team while this is the case.
While he has failed to produce a consistent level of performance in La Liga, he has shown just how effective he can be in the Premier League; with a style of football that is arguably more suited to his strengths and ability. There’s no doubt he would feel more comfortable back in England, where the fans would be far more welcoming and encouraging than those in Spain. And he would certainly fit right in any side willing to fork out the large fee for his services, where he could be given the freedom to express himself once more as their main attacking threat which would bring out the best in him once more.
Bale may feel he has plenty of unfinished business in Spain as he continues to battle to win over the fans, and you have to credit him if he decides that. A player of his ability is still hugely important to Madrid and they must find a way to accommodate him in the side in order to get the best out of him. He is a match winner and is still a vital part of the clubs chances of success.
But unless his performances improve; along with that of the team, the scrutiny from the fans and media will only continue to grow. And if he fails to get the appreciation he deserves it would only be right to consider moving on.
He may not feel loved at Madrid, but you can bet the fans at United or Chelsea would welcome him with open arms. Watch this space.