It seems bizarre to question the calibre of a player who’s won four Champions League titles and scored over a century of goals for Real Madrid.
And yet, that is the prevailing sentiment around Gareth Bale.
Things had gone sour for Bale in the Spanish capital with the wide-man restricted to a bit-part role and just 16 LaLiga appearances in 2019-20.
Bale’s move to Tottenham on loan in the 2020-21 season was a productive one in terms of direct goal output (11 goals & two assists) but he only appeared in just over half (20) of Spurs’ 38 league fixtures. Fitness issues persist for the 32-year-old.
Going back in time, a quick look at his first stint at Spurs will quickly jog the memory and remind us why Real Madrid parted ways with a then-world record fee to acquire his services. Bale won two PFA Player of the Year awards (2011 & 2013) which catapulted him to superstar status.
He scored 56 goals and provided 58 assists in 203 Tottenham appearances, sparkling in the 2012-13 Premier League campaign, scoring 21 times and assisting on nine occasions. Los Blancos came calling and the Welsh wizard made the move to the Spanish capital for £85.3m, or roughly €105m.
— Futaa.com (@Futaacom) July 16, 2021
And it’s difficult to argue with Bale’s record at Real Madrid thus far. He’s won four Champions League titles (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018), La Liga (2016-17), Copa del Rey (2014), three UEFA Super Cup titles (2014, 2016, 2017) and three Club World Cups (2014, 2017, 2018).
He’s scored in two separate Champions League finals, including a stunning overhead to bury Liverpool in 2018 in Kyiv. He’s worked with one of the best managers in the world, performed alongside some of the brightest stars on the planet and produced on the big stages when the world was watching. There is simply no doubt about Bale’s calibre.
And yet, he became the target of consistent criticism and abuse from Los Blancos supporters, a set of football fans who are infamously demanding of the players represented by their club. It’s no secret that the Welshman’s relationship with the Real Madrid faithful is strained.
Now that Zinedine Zidane is no longer at the club, could there be an avenue back into the first team at the Bernabéu? Judging by his performances for Wales at Euro 2020, as well as at the back-end of the EPL season, Bale definitely isn’t done yet.