Gareth Bale has been named in the Real Madrid XI for their first match of the new LaLiga season against Celta Vigo, despite appearing destined to leave the club in this transfer window.
Bale, whose relationship with head coach Zinedine Zidane has long appeared strained, saw a July move to Jiangsu Suning collapse, while mooted transfers to other European giants never materialised.
But on the eve of the season, Zidane insisted he would use the winger while he remained in his squad and duly named him in the line-up for Saturday’s meeting at Balaidos.
With Eden Hazard ruled out by a late muscle injury, Bale and Vinicius Junior will support Karim Benzema in attack as Madrid attempt to capitalise on Barcelona’s surprise loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday.
Madrid have invested heavily in the close season, yet Hazard’s absence sees them start the first match of the new campaign without a single new signing in the side.
Luka Jovic is among the substitutes, along with James Rodriguez, who had been linked to rivals Atletico Madrid.
Real Madrid team to face Celta Vigo:
Courtois; Odriozola, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Vinicius, Benzema.
Subs: Navas, Militao, Nacho, James, Vazquez, Jovic, Isco.