2016 may be the year of the man-bun, but Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale could be wearing his for an altogether different, and entirely understandable, reason.
A favourite hairstyle among the hip and happening of London, Bale has been busy championing the ‘do at the Bernabeu in recent years.
In truth, Real Madrid fans are more than familiar with the look – David Beckham was championing the man-bun long before it became the cool thing to do – but Bale’s situation may be a little different.
Because, as any football fan with too much time on their hands and Google close at hand will tell you, Bale’s man-bun is actually hiding something – Gareth is going bald.
Though there were some signs of hair loss at Real, the problem really only came to the fore at Euro 2016.
Inspirational in Wales’ 2-1 opening game win over Slovakia, the match also saw Bale’s bald patch emerge for all the world to see, with the fans going to town on Photoshop soon enough:
That was the case once again when the Welsh wonder appeared against Georgia, with the 27-year-old’s receding hairline present in a blink-and-you’ll-miss it shot from the end of the fixture.
With his apparent hair loss now something approaching public knowledge, the winger may opt to follow in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney with some sort of follicle-based treatment.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Rooney’s notable decline in form over the past few years did seem to coincide with that treatment.
Perhaps Bale is better off sticking with his man-bun. For now, anyway, at least.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.