This summer will witness a fascinating show of brinkmanship in the footballing dilemma that is brewing between Real Madrid and Gareth Bale.
Gareth Bale and Real Madrid: A Summer of Brinkmanship
Hero and Villain for Gareth Bale
The Welshmen very much polarizes opinion. He is the quintessential hero and villain. Very much loved and adored by the Welsh supporters and respected in Britain for his overseas successes. However, he is almost despised and disrespected by the majority of disgruntled Real Madrid supporters.
Bale’s Real History
From the outside looking in, it is difficult to understand such a negative backlash. The player has won four Champions League titles in seven years and one La Liga title in 2017. He also has a man of the match award from the 2014 Copa Del Rey final against arch-rivals Barcelona. A famous goal with that tremendous sprinting extra-time winning goal in Valencia’s La Mestalla stadium. His trophy haul at Los Merengues stands at 14, and his goal record overall is not shabby – 80 goals in 169 appearances. Almost a classic goal in every two games ratio, which years ago would represent an impressive tally.
A Demanding Club
However this is Real Madrid – the Disneyland of the footballing world – where the club and its supporters analyse forensically every movement of a player in exhaustive detail. For the expensive nature of the deal – a world record £85 million pounds at the time – his dwindling number of goals and his many injury issues, the numbers simply don’t add up as on first reflection.
For a ‘Galactico’ has to be the star and to show week-in, week-out why he belongs to one of, if not the biggest teams in world football. When Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, Real Madrid’s supporters expected Bale to step up and take his mantle. They expected he became the fulcrum and talisman of the team. It simply hasn’t panned out that way.
Life on and off the Pitch
There are, however, mitigating circumstances. It has to be stressed that certain factors have gone against him, such as those unfortunate injuries. But there are some issues he could have improved on. For one, his inability to immerse himself in the language, culture and the differing habits of living in Spain. It is always a difficult challenge to come out of your comfort zone and learn a new lingo. Yet after seven years of living in Spain and conducting only one highly staged interview in Spanish, it is understandable how supporters can feel negativity towards the player.
The Golfer Bale
The fact he seems socially withdrawn and unwilling to participate in club activities also goes against him. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said the players have nicknamed him ‘The Golfer’ for his love of the game. Indeed his passion for golf has got him into trouble with accusations laying at his door he is more focused on his golf game than trying to be a success at the white house of Madrid.
Silence in the Bale Camp
What makes this speculation more intriguing is the fact Bale says very little on his situation. Naturally, this makes it difficult to gauge his opinion. His agent Jonathan Barnett confirmed earlier this year his client is happy in Madrid.
All the noises coming out of the Welshman’s camp confirm he is keen to stay at Los Blancos.
This season, Bale has once again been in and out of the lineup. He has featured in 18 games with just three goals and two assists. A fading star in gradual decline in Madrid and the Welshman is very much at a crossroads in his career.
The Future for Gareth Bale
Bale has a contract through to 2022 and is happy to stay, being so settled for him and his family. Who can blame him on the numbers he is earning? However, with Zinedine Zidane at the helm, Bale has a manager openly not in favour of the Welshman. Likewise, Bale doesn’t feel the support of his manager either: “We’re not exactly the best of friends”, he said of his relationship with Zidane.
Therefore, it seems likely there is set to be only one outcome. After a long time simmering, the situation has gone beyond reached breaking point. It is clear there is a total divorce between player, manager and club supporters. Bale has been deemed surplus to requirements and a solution to this prickly predicament clearly has to be sought.
Permanent transfer suitors forthcoming might take a pass due to his age (30, soon to be 31 next July). Plus the fact of his huge wage packet (£350,000 a week after tax), and his injury record. A loan detail represents a viable solution for all parties.
The Red Devils of Manchester United were mooted to be interested in a deal of this nature last summer, which would have represented a triple-win scenario; The player would play, the club would relieve itself of his high contractual burden and club supporters would welcome his exit.
However, this solution didn’t come to fruition and was not on the cards from the start. According to Mr. Barnett: “A loan move is not going to happen. There’s more chance of me winning at Ascot than him going out on loan.”
A historic Premier League club which are in talks to be taken over with riches to burn. The Magpies would not have any problem to pay the fees included in the deal. It also gives Bale the chance to return to English football where he started.
David Beckham’s Inter Miami have arrived to much fanfare in the MLS. The club have played only one game in the MLS due to the worldwide pandemic. The team is lacking in star power to give visibility to the world. Therefore, a new marquee signing would be just the tonic. Step forward an interested Gareth Bale to find his feet again in America to give the franchise the top signing they crave.
Chinese Super League
An option which could return for the player is a move to China. Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning were on the verge of his signing last year before it broke down at the 11th hour. The club were willing to pay a staggering £1 million pounds a week wages. However, the transfer collapsed with the Chinese club unable to pay a transfer fee and Real blocking the deal. Eye-watering figures, but would the player himself give up European trophies for financial rewards?
In football, as is the norm, everything is not straightforward. There will be many twists and turns ahead in this summer saga before the conclusion of the Gareth Bale conundrum.