You Ain't Seen Bale Yet: 7 of the Biggest Player Unveilings
The stage has quite literally been set for Gareth Bale to become a Real Madrid player, with the Spanish giants erecting a large podium in the stands of the Bernabeu in order to make an "announcement" later this week.
Los Blancos are renowned for making a very big deal over their player unveilings, but how will Bale's introduction at the White House fare in comparison to some of the biggest footballer presentations in history?
Here are seven of the best.
Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid
On Monday, July 6, 2009, the most over-the-top player unveiling in football history took place as Real Madrid formally paraded their €93 million acquisition from Manchester United.
An incredible 80,000 people showed up at the Bernabeu on that balmy summer evening to catch a glimpse of their new hero, with many queueing all day for the privilege.
The whole charade lasted less than 10 minutes, but the club was able to get plenty of use out of their specially built stage in the middle of the pitch that summer: They presented Karim Benzema a few days after Ronaldo, and had already used it to herald the arrival of a certain Brazilian the week before.
Kaka at Real Madrid
One Madridista who probably wasn't too happy about Cristiano Ronaldo's epic unveiling was Kaka, who had his thunder completely stolen by his record-breaking arrival.
Just six days before the Portuguese superstar was shown off, the €65 million Brazilian was unveiled to a crowd of over 50,000 Los Blancos followers.
The Daily Mail said that was more than three times the expected attendance for the Milan import, but it was 30,000 less than the man who cost €30 million more.
Kaka has been playing second fiddle with Los Blancos ever since.
Diego Maradona at Napoli
After a tumultuous time at Barcelona, Diego Maradona was unveiled as a Napoli player on July 6, 1984, after completing a world-record £6.9 million move.
Upwards of 70,000 fans turned up at the Stadio San Paolo to welcome their new hero for the first time, and the curva bellowed out his name just as loudly as they did consistently throughout the following six seasons that followed.
Neymar at Barcelona
After battling with Real Madrid and Chelsea for several years, Barcelona finally secured the services of Brazilian wunderkind Neymar this summer.
On June 3, the former Santos sensation set foot on the Nou Camp turf for the very first time, watched over by more than 56,000 Barca fans.
He waved Blaugrana flags, did some juggling and told the crowd how grateful he was to be among "his idols."
Alan Shearer at Newcastle
Shortly after Euro 96, Manchester United attempted to sign Blackburn sensation Alan Shearer. However, Sir Alex Ferguson was pipped to the post by the player's hometown club, Newcastle United.
The Toon paid a world-record £15 million for the striker on July 30, 1996, and shortly after he was paraded outside St. James' Park to a crowd of over 20,000 exhilarated fans.
The optimism in that crowd must have been palpable—one can only imagine how they now feel about the complete lack of silverware that has arrived since that day.
Michael Owen at Newcastle
Nearly a decade after Shearer's arrival at St. James' Park, the mood on the Toon was once again buoyant on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, when new signing Michael Owen was unveiled.
Around 20,000 fans filled the stands at St. James' Park to see the man who had left Real Madrid at a cost of £16.8 million.
Sadly, the club-record move didn't quite work out. After finding the net seven times in 10 starts in his debut season on Tyneside, injury got the better of Owen's career and he was snapped up by Manchester United's bench in 2009.
Clint Dempsey at Seattle Sounders
On August 3 of this year, Tottenham's Clint Dempsey took everyone by surprise when he agreed a $9 million transfer to MLS side Seattle Sounders.
Prior to their match with FC Dallas at a capacity CenturyLink Field, The Deuce was unveiled in typically American fashion, via a dramatic surprise announcement in which he revealed a Sounders shirt under his hoody.