The revelation of the extent of Gareth Bale's ankle injury comes as a huge blow to the Wales international and Real Madrid.
Champions League holders Madrid announced on Thursday that the 27-year-old will require surgery on his ankle next week, which could see him sidelined for three months.
With seven goals in 16 games in all competitions for Madrid this term, Zinedine Zidane’s men are deprived of one of their most lethal attacking weapons for a crucial period.
Madrid’s lead at the top of La Liga is not a luxurious one. Sitting four points clear of fierce rivals Barcelona and a further two ahead of Jorge Sampaoli’s dazzling Sevilla, the capital club cannot afford a slip up.
Zidane, then, will be cursing his luck that he will be without the €100 million signing when his side line up against Barca in the season’s first Clasico on December 3 at Camp Nou. A few days later, they take on Borussia Dortmund in their final Champions League group stage game.
The winter break will ensure Bale has time to recover from his operation without missing extra games, but his side could find themselves in a perilous position in his absence when they line up against Sevilla in their second league game of 2017.
In between times, the Welshman will miss out on the chance to win a second Club World Cup, as his team-mates look to build on their European victory in December this year.
Furthermore, according to the current estimations, he will be ruled out of the first leg of his side’s Champions League last-16 tie.
Amidst the less challenging ties for Madrid, Bale will have to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates take on Sporting Gijon, Leonesa, Deportivo de La Coruna, Granada, Malaga and Real Sociedad.
With Celta, Osasuna, Valencia and Espanyol coming up afterwards, Zidane will be desperate that his attacker does not suffer any further setbacks as the business end of the season approaches.
Of course, Madrid have plenty of attacking options available, but the importance of the former Tottenham man is a huge inconvenience for him, his team-mates and his coach at such a key part of the campaign.