As the speculation regarding the severity of Gareth Bale’s injury mounts, Wales' boss Chris Coleman has warned Real Madrid that they may not be able to enjoy playing with their expensive new toy until next year.
Los Blancos broke the world transfer record to sign Bale and their fans are impatient to see him return that financial leap of faith with regular game time and goals.
But the club has been forced onto the back foot as Bale’s injury concerns linger and after the recently denied rumours that the Welsh star has a slipped disc that requires surgery.
The latest reports are that Bale could be ready to play in the first Clasico of the season at the Camp Nou on 26 October. And what better way to announce himself as a Galactico than a winning goal for Real Madrid against Barcelona?
However, Coleman has advised that Bale’s impact may not be felt in the short-term.
The Wales boss denies that Bale has a chronic back condition but he does think the 24-year-old’s lack of a proper pre-season has stunted his acclimatisation in Madrid.
"Anyone who plays top-level professional football and you don't have a pre-season, if you expect to start any game, you are bonkers, crackers. It doesn't happen," Coleman said of Bale’s travails.
"If you think you can just pick up where you left off the season before, that doesn't happen either. It takes time. It doesn't matter how good you are - and he's a super player and a super athlete. You can't just switch it on or off if you've missed all that pre-season.
"You are always playing catch-up so I wouldn't be surprised if it's after Christmas before we see Gareth getting into it again. I hope it's not serious but it may be some time before we see Gareth doing what he is capable of."
"There's been no problem with his back with Wales,” Coleman added.
“I think he missed the Olympics with his back and our friendly against Mexico that summer. But he's never complained about his back with us."