Real Madrid stars Casemiro and Thibaut Courtois have offered their support to teammate Gareth Bale, insisting that the Welshman deserves to play for the club this season.
Bale has been heavily linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer amid rumours that manager Zinedine Zidane isn't exactly his biggest fan. A switch to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning ultimately collapsed, leaving Bale is somewhat of a limbo.
Speaking after Real's 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday (via Goal), Casemiro insisted that Bale has been such an important player in the club's history, and he deserves a place in the team as a result.
He said: "He has given us titles, he's scored in finals and he has a lot of respect from us all. He has to play. He's a great player and is very important for us."
Zidane surprised many by opting to start Bale against Celta Vigo, and the winger responded by putting in a stellar performance. He created Karim Benzema's opener and was hugely impressive throughout before being withdrawn late on.
On Bale, Courtois added: "He is an important player and played a great match. Everyone loves him and it is important that he plays for us. We are so happy with Bale."
Courtois' feelings were clearly echoed by Zidane, who also insisted that Bale will stay with the club for the upcoming season, and that his decision has nothing to do with the injuries to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard.
Last season, the 30-year-old made 42 appearances in all competitions, racking up 14 goals and seven assists. However, his output dropped hugely following Zidane's arrival, and Bale often found himself used as a late substitute in games.
Fortunately for Bale, after an impressive pre-season, he appears to have played his way back into Zidane's team, and his good form on Saturday will likely help him stay there.