Nothing ever stays the same; around this period six years ago, Real Madrid were pressing hard to secure the signature of Tottenham Hotspur star and the 2012-13 Premier League player of the season – Gareth Bale. Los Blancos did get their man on the last day of transfer breaking the world record transfer fee (€100m) to seal the deal. However, six seasons after, Bale is practically being forced out of the club despite enjoying a rather successful period winning 13 major titles including four Champions League winner medals and scoring thrice in two finals.
Gareth Bale was a part of Real Madrid’s famous BBC that was regarded as untouchable when fit. From Ancelotti to Benitez to Zidane, the attacking trio remained the fulcrum of the team offense and delivered with goals. At the start of Zidane’s first reign, he confirmed his plan was to build the team around the BBC and bolster their status. “I’m going to play with all three. That’s definitely the idea” he said. However, something changed in the 2016-17 season and the first major indicator that BBC had run its course was in the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff – Isco had broken the trio and was given the nod ahead of Bale in the final that was played in the Welsh man hometown. Zidane kept faith with the Spaniard more and he was chosen in the big games ahead of Bale whether he was fit or otherwise. Something had broken in the relationship between the coach and his once untouchable star. The situation didn’t improve much better in the 2017-18 season with Bale starting the Kyiv final on the bench again. He produced a superb display off to bench and won the man of the match award despite playing barely over 30 minutes in the game. While the club and its fans were celebrating an unprecedented three consecutive Champions League success, Bale chose the moment to express his unhappiness and assess his future at the club. On the part of the coach, it appeared he had lost faith or belief in his player and wanted him out. The club didn’t buy into the coach idea which led Zidane choosing to walk away. With a new coach and the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo, the club kept faith with Bale and expected him assume leadership position as well as win over dissenting voices inside the Santiago Bernabeu. It turned out to be one of his poorest campaign in Spain with 14 goals in 42 appearances in addition to missing a crucial part of the season due to injuries. Bale disastrous season can be mirrored in the same light as the club with Perez not hesitating in reappointing Zidane. The Frenchman wanted Bale gone nine months earlier and upon his return, having gained more power and authority over footballing matters, he was even more determined and made no secret of his intentions.
The new season preparation is underway and in the last few days, there has been a lot on Gareth’s future. The relationship between the Welshman and Zizou has broken down entirely with Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, calling the coach “a disgrace” after he admitted he hoped a departure was “imminent”. Zidane said the club was working on Bale’s departure after leaving him out of the squad to face Bayern Munich in Houston in preseason friendly. He said he hoped there would be a solution, and perhaps within a day or two. Despite that, there is still work to be done and there is no guarantee yet that a deal will be concluded. Three days after the coach comment, Bale is yet to depart and he featured in the second friendly against Arsenal. He put in a good performance overall but the coach insisted that nothing has changed – Bale is still up for sale. The message is very clear to the player and his camp.
Gareth Bale is now 30 which make his option limited. Real Madrid need the cash from his sale to prosecute other recruitment but the Welshman doesn’t have suitors queuing up. A lot of Europe’s biggest clubs – Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur have been unable to put together an acceptable package. In addition, the former Spurs player is on €17m (£15.25m) a year after tax and is refusing to take a pay cut. However, China Super League clubs can match Bale’s wage demands but 100% tax on transfers makes it difficult to put an agreeable offer to Real Madrid. With the Chinese transfer window closing in a few days, will Real Madrid be reluctant to sell him cheaply as it does appear Bale is not interested in a loan deal?
Fully aware that his time in the Spanish capital is up, Bale needs to decide on his next move. Injuries have blighted his career but his quality isn’t in doubt when fit. At his age, Bale find himself in a strange situation where he needs to choose either to leave Europe for the obscure league in China while making tons of money or accept a pay cut and revive a career that has stalled in the last 14 months or more.