Welsh forward Gareth Bale turned 28 on Sunday, spending the day with his Real Madrid team-mates in Los Angeles. However, he doesn't have too many reasons too over celebrate the occasion. Since pre-season began he has realised that his situation in the team has changed. Bale has began to notice the added pressure since Florentino Perez, Madrid's president, began to rejuvenate the squad with young, Spanish talent.
Bale began to have doubts when Zinedine Zidane gave time to Isco and Marco Asensio and the responded with brilliant form. And now a third player (Dani Ceballos) has arrived, ready to grab his chance and push for a first team spot. Sufficient motive for the Welsh international to begin to worry.
He has seen as much in Madrid's first few sessions in Los Angeles. Bale has his foot on the accelarator because he's aware that he cannot take his foot off the gas at any moment. This is his fifth season at the Santiago Bernabeu and all eyes are fixed on him.
Bale has become the weakest member of the BBC and his name is on all the betting slips as to who would leave if the club sign Monaco star Kylian Mbappe. He would be left without a place in the team, because Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are untouchable under Zidane and Perez.
The former Tottenham man already lost importance throughout last season due to Isco's form and the progression of Asensio, the two leaders of Madrid's supposed 'Plan B'. Continued physical problems led Zidane to bet on the youngsters and they did not fail to take their chance, with Bale a substitute in the Champions League final.
And now Ceballos arrives to make things even more difficult for Zidane, who has so many options in attack and midfield. And with such an array of midfield talent (add in Casemiro, Kroos, Modric and Kovacic), he may decide to go 4-4-2 instead of 4-3-3, the formation which had such success as they won the double last season.