Gareth Bale has now become the world’s most expensive player in history after he signed a six year deal at Real Madrid. It has been a long, extraordinary journey for the Welsh star who started out as a left back. It all started when he was scouted by Southampton and snapped up by the club when he was eight. The coaches just knew he was going to be a talent, along with a certain Theo Walcott.
Bale became the second youngest player for the Saints when he made his debut, only Walcott was younger by 132 days. Gareth scored his first league goal in a 2-2 draw against Derby with a typical free kick of a left back, it was similar to the strikes Leighton Baines pulls off. He was known as a free kick specialist from then on, and that is only one of the reasons why he attracted Premier League clubs. He won BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year and Football League Young Player of the Year in 2007.
So it was no surprise when Tottenham Hotspur bought him for a fee of £5 million and potentially rising to £10 million based on appearances and how big a success he could be. You couldn’t be any more successful than he has been at White Hart Lane could you?
He suffered an injury when he was becoming a regular at the Lane and after he signed a new four year contract, he lost his place to Assou-Ekotto who remained as first choice. The coaching staff at Tottenham helped him transfer into a left winger because they believed he had pace and power along with the ability to beat players and cross with ease.
He marked his stamp on the Premier League and the Champions League in the 2010-11 season. He scored a number of goals in all competitions and his most memorable performance was when he scored a hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter. In that game, at half-time Spurs were 4-0 down so the impact of Bale came so close to earning a draw.
He got a lot of man of the match performances in the season, and also he won the PFA player of the year award. He didn’t only score goals because he also got a number of assists so he became a key player in the first team. The following season he stepped up that extra gear and proved to be a fan favourite. He continued to mature and earned a new four year contract keeping him at the club until 2016. He scored more goals than the previous season, and he was know the best player in the squad.
He further continued his rapid improvement last season and the club showed their faith in the Welshman by changing his number on his shirt from 3 to 11. They did this partly because Van der Vaart left and also they wanted to show he wasn’t a left back any more, Bale also asked for the change.
He played a key part in Tottenham ‘s season by scoring 21 league goals to keep Spurs in the race for the top four to the final day. A few of his memorable strikes came against United, West Ham and his final goal for the club which came against Sunderland. Another one was his solo effort at Carrow Road where he ran with the ball from his own half to beat several players and fire into the far side of the goal.
He was so vital in the season because he alone with his wonder strikes turned draws to wins and defeats to draws. His impact earned him a place in the PFA team of the year, the PFA player of the year award and young player of the year award. On top of that he won the FWA players of the year award.
There was speculation about his move to Real Madrid even before the Premier League even finished. We have now found out that negotiations between Bale ‘s agents, Spurs and Madrid had began in May. Also Gareth started to learn Spanish a few moths ago because he was that confident that the deal would happen, however he never actively looked to leave Tottenham because he liked to work with AVB.
Negotiations were confirmed only a couple of weeks ago when Madrid made a bid, but there was confusion as to what the actual offer. There were rumours it was £85m plus Coentrao, £95m in cash, £105m in cash and just recently there were rumours that the transfer fee would be two million less than the world record fee to keep Ronaldo happy.
We now know that it is £85.3m to break the world record, but now there is speculation that it could cost Real over £100m with the add ons. I don’t think that we will ever know the exact fee unless all parties agree to release the actual cost of the player.
I think Ronaldo will still be happy because Bale will not be used in the Portuguese’s place in the starting eleven. He will form a partnership with the new number eleven and they will become an even bigger force in Europe. There has been questions whether he can cut it for the Spanish club, but he already has experience in both European competitions and was the best player in the most competitive league in the world.
We have known for a long time now that Bale wanted the move. He has said it was his boyhood dream and that the move to the Bernabeu wasn’t an offer he could refuse or resist. His agent said on Spanish radio that his client was interested in the move, this could have been to advertise Bale but the main reason why he did speak on radio was to get a massive pay off from the transfer fee.
During the negotiations Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini were spending the money they knew they were going to get from the Bale deal. In total they spent over £100m and brought Paulinho, Soldado and Lamela which broke their club transfer record three times.
I will talk about Tottenham in further detail in my season preview for them. After the deal, Levy negotiated his way out of paying such a substantial sum of the money to Southampton. We still don’t know if the Saints will get a sell on fee but no matter what happens it is great business from the chairman.
Real Madrid were showing arrogance when the negotiations were still going ahead. One of the ways they showed their arrogance was when the club sold Bale shirts before he signed on the official online club shop. They were selling the shirts with the number eleven on the back that showed that they reserved the number for their new record signing.
Another way that they showed arrogance was when the club made a stage for the new Galactico for his unveiling. It was planned by the club’s president that Bale would be unveiled to the fans at the game between Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.
However, Levy told Perez that they will only agree the Bale deal if the stage would be taken down. The arrogance of Perez frustrated Levy and in the last couple of days, there were some slight doubts that the move would actually happen. The stage was eventually taken down, and then the deal was done within 24 hours.
It wasn’t just the club that was convinced that the Welsh star was on his way to the capital, because the markets in Madrid were selling shirts and scarves with Bale printed on them. There was one last rumour when the deal was complete. People believed that the main reason why the deal was delayed was that Levy didn’t want to announce it until deadline day to deny Arsenal the chance to buy any Real Madrid player.
The players that the Gunners were linked with were Benzema, Ozil and Di Maria and we know that Ozil signed for Arsenal for a club record fee. I never thought that this rumour would be true, but if it is true it would have been a bonus for the chances of getting Tottenham into the top four. Gareth Bale will be under the spotlight from day one, just because of the fee. People will think that there is no way that Bale is worth more than Ronaldo and that Perez can’t justify the huge sum of money.
However, my view is that Bale, like Ronaldo, is not only a class act but an investment for the future. Let’s not forget he is only 24 so he is still learning the game and there is no doubt his play will improve with training with world class players surrounding him. I think that the fee will be justified in a couple of years when he will win even more awards, and might single-handedly guide his country to a major tournament. He has still got his peak years ahead of him, and he is already the third best player in the world.
The Welshman has stated that he doesn’t feel under pressure because his price tag, but he has to feel the pressure. The fans will stick by him, but you can’t hide from the media when you have a bad day. He will need a lot of mental and physical strength to be a hit at Real.
Part of the pressure that comes with becoming a galactico is that there is an unveiling where you have to show some of your football skills in front of a big crowd. He did show some of his skills but when he decided to show some kick ups, he only did three which for a world class player is pretty poor. However, he won’t be judged on how many kick ups he can do. He said in his press conference that it was purely nerves and he completely forgot how to do them.
Already it seems that Gareth Bale, like the best online slots, was definitely a gamble worth taking by Real Madrid; the support is already immense for the superstar because thousands of fans queued up outside the stadium hours before the unveiling. The fans also chanted his name when he entered the stadium. In a statement he thanked everyone at Tottenham and hopes that they understand the reason why he left. He also said that he had some great memories at Spurs and wishes them success for the future. He clearly respects his former clubs and he leaves on good terms because the club knew that he wasn’t going to turn up for training.
From a personal point of view, I think that he is a big loss to the Premier League and that he could have helped his club win the title. He dominated the league last year and he was a joy to watch but his transfer was inevitable.
There was another club that came in with a bid, believed to be Manchester United, but unfortunately nothing else happened. I have said that in a previous post that United would have been a better move for Bale, I do stick by that opinion but that is also from a selfish view.
This is now his next step in what has so far been an extraordinary career, and the only way is up now. I can’t wait to see him in the Champions League and how he plays with Ronaldo. It is only a matter of time now.
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