by Tom Young
WHEN Real Madrid made Gareth Bale their next Galactico in the summer of 2013 for a then world record transfer fee of £85.4 million, there was a genuine feeling that the Welshman could go on to be one of the sports’ greatest ever players.
However, now into his sixth season at the club, Bale’s time in the Spanish capital hasn’t been as straightforward as it may have seemed.
A turbulent season for the Champions League holders has left the club’s fan base in disarray, with the Madridistas frustration being aimed at Bale in recent weeks, notably during the home defeat to Barcelona at the weekend. It was a result that left Madrid 12 points adrift of their fierce rivals, with agent Jonathan Barnett labelling the fans’ treatment of the forward ‘nothing short of a disgrace’
Bale has always had a mixed relationship with the club and its fans. His personal relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo, whom he replaced as the worlds most expensive player, was a talking point in his first year at the club.
There were numerous reported spats between the two during Bales early Madrid career, with Barnett labelling the Portuguese striker ‘merely an underwear seller instead of a footballer’, in an interview with Spanish radio station Radio Marca in October 2015.
Injuries have hampered the Welsh star during his time at the Bernabeu. Since signing for the club, he has had 18 separate injury layoffs, meaning he has missed a total of 74 games for the club through injury, an average of 12 games a season.
His lack of fitness has meant that Bale has struggled for a consistent goal scoring run in the side. That being said, his goal record for the club is still up there with the best in the world. In his 222 games for the club, he has scored 101 goals and provided 63 assists.
He has also scored key goals in a number of important games for his team. He scored the match winner in the 2014 Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona, as well as decisive goals in both the 2014 and 2018 Champions League final victories against local rivals Atletico and Liverpool respectively.
The question now is where is next for Bale? Whilst Barnett is adamant that his client is still happy in Madrid and has no intentions of leaving, has the relationship between Bale and the club reached its tipping point?