Ancelotti defends Bale after "ugly gesture" during Real Madrid title party

Carlo Ancelotti has leapt to the defence of Gareth Bale after the Welshman missed Real Madrid's La Liga title party.

The 32-year-old was absent from last weekend's celebrations having sat out of Los Blancos' 4-0 title-clinching triumph over Espanyol due to a back injury. Bale, who has become something of a pantomime villain in the eyes of the Spanish press, did take to Twitter, however, to congratulate his team-mates and express his disappointment at not being able to join in with the celebrations.

Last Saturday, Bale posted: "So disappointed that I’m not able to be part of the celebrations this evening due to a bad back spasm but really proud of the team for winning the title! Enjoy tonight boys!"

In response, the Spanish media hit back at the Welsh winger, with Marca labelling his tweet as an "ugly gesture on a day of joy for the squad and fans". However, it's fair to say the brutal criticism didn't sit well with Madrid manager Ancelotti.

"All the players have an affection for Bale and vice-versa," the Italian declared. "When you have a back issue it becomes difficult to move, it happened to me.

"If Bale is okay, he trains, but if he doesn't it's because he can't move, not because he's distant."

It isn't the first time the Spanish press have taken aim at Bale, who appears set to depart the club for free this summer, upon the expiry of his contract. Marca previously branded Bale a "parasite" as he continues to command a high wage despite scarcely featuring for Real Madrid this season.

The former Tottenham star hit back at such suggestions himself on that occasion, releasing a statement which claimed "we all know who the real parasite is". Bale also took aim at the Spanish press' criticism as he celebrated wildly after scoring in Wales' World Cup semi-final play-off against Austria in March.

Bale has made a mere five La Liga outings this season with his only other two appearances coming as a late substitute in the Champions League. It remains to be seen what the attacker's future holds amid speculation he may retire following the World Cup later this year, should Wales qualify.

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