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Why did Gareth Bale refuse to celebrate his winning goal for Madrid?

Gareth Bale appeared to shrug off celebrations after scoring the winning goal. Credit: PA

Gareth Bale appeared to shrug off his teammates and refused to celebrate after scoring Real Madrid's winning goal against Levante on Sunday.

Bale, who came on as a substitute, rolled home a late penalty in what was a controversial win, with both goals coming from the penalty spot via VAR.

But as the Real players came over to celebrate, he brushed them away and jogged back to the centre circle.

Madrid manager, Santiago Solari, has insisted that Bale was 'ecstatic', brushing off any speculation the Welsh international is unhappy at the club:

He was ecstatic when I saw him in the dressing room having got his goal. That's all your speculation because he was waiting to come on. I told him to wait.

I'm thrilled with how he went out there and he looked hungry when he got on the pitch. He clinched the win for us and worked extremely hard. You have an awful lot more eyes than we do, but we're there and what I saw is how hungry he was to get on the pitch and help the team. I'm very pleased, he can celebrate the goals however he likes.

– Santiago Solari, Real Madrid manager
The 29-year-old has had a long list of injuries at the club. Credit: PA

Plagued by injuries

Speculation around Bale's career have been circulating since for many years.

He joined Real Madrid from Tottenham in 2013 for £85m and has since won 4 Champions Leagues and a La Liga title.

After Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, he was tipped to fill the void left by the Portuguese star. The then Real Madrid boss, Julen Lopetegui, said Bale was a 'magnificent player' and maintained that he was 'happy to play at Real Madrid'.

But since then, the 29-year-old has been troubled with injuries and consistently left on the bench. The first few weeks of 2019 saw Bale sidelined and subsequently fall out of favour.

Read More: Gareth Bale reveals he had to take a 'lot of painkillers' to play

The game against Levante on Sunday was the sixth time in the past eight games Bale has started on the bench.

His frustrations seemed to spill out on to the pitch.

On February 14, La Liga asked the Spanish Football Federation to punish the winger after he made an arm gesture as he celebrated his goal against Atletico Madrid after coming on as a substitute.

But the problems seem to have started long before.

Bale was used sparingly by Zidane in the second half of the 2017-2018 season. Credit: PA

Champions League final

In the closing months of last season, then manager, Zinedine Zidane, relied less heavily on him and used him sparingly.

It came ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool in May which Bale was left on the substitute bench for, to his dismay.

He came on after the hour mark to score a second half double which secured the win for Real Madrid, but the Wales international later revealed he felt 'quite angry' about being left on the bench:

Angry. Quite angry, to be honest. Obviously, I felt I deserved to start the game. I'd been scoring goals. So yeah, I suppose it was hard to put the anger aside.

– Gareth Bale
Bale has won the Champions League four times with Real Madrid. Credit: PA

Transfer rumours

Despite scoring 101 goals in 220 games since joining Real Madrid, Gareth Bale has spent most of his time at the club plagued by rumours he was going to be sold - some he seemed not to rule out.

In April of last he refused to rule out a move to Bayern Munich, telling a German newspaper, ''You can never rule out anything in football".

A month later, he was repeatedly linked with a summer move to Manchester United.

Read more: Gareth Bale 'seriously considering' his future at Real Madrid

However, Bale is not without support. Former and current Wales managers have repeatedly voiced their praises for him.

Ryan Giggs said Bale can 'handle the pressure':

Every year there is pressure on him and he has handled it brilliantly. It's a bit different this year because Cristiano has left and there will be more focus on the players who are going to replace the goals.

But Gareth has shown his qualities in big games and that he can handle anything that is thrown at him.

– Ryan Giggs, Wales manager