Bale gives the Real supporters the thumbs up during his Bernabeu presentation
The summer’s most protracted transfer came to an end on 1st September as Real Madrid officially announced the signing of Tottenham Hotspur’s star man.
According to the BBC, Spurs’ supremo Daniel Levy held out for a King's Ransom in the form of a world record transfer. Los Blancos duly obliged, parting with €100m (£85.3m) to secure the signature of the Premier League’s PFA player of the year and FWA young footballer of the year.
With the Welshman agreeing a six-year, £15m- (€17.5m) per-year contract, it means president Florentino Perez has essentially committed to over €200m on one player—and one who is not even the main attraction in the team.
Soon after signing his contract, Bale listened via a translator as Perez, unsurprisingly, publicly endorsed Bale’s talents and formally welcomed him to the Spanish capital, in front of 20,000 fans at the Bernabeu.
“This is your stadium, this is your shirt, these are your supporters. From today on, this is your home and that of your entire family. Welcome to your team, welcome to Real Madrid."
Given the weight of expectation, will Bale blossom or will he crumble?
The former is more likely and here are five reasons to determine why, starting with generic factors such as hunger and moving through into more specific criteria.
Bale is hungry for success at Real
On Sunday night, BBC sourced reports quoted Bale thanking Spurs fans for six great years at White Hart Lane, where he said he had “played his best football to date.”
For a player who faces a tough battle to ever play in a World Cup (Wales last qualified for the finals in 1958), the Champions League is likely to be Bale's highest stage during his playing career. Therefore the Bernabeu switch makes sense, even for the most begrudging Tottenham supporters.
Furthermore, this is a dream move for him. Upon his unveiling in Madrid, a picture of a young Bale visiting the Bernabeu wearing a Real jersey in his younger years was on display.
"I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say, this is my dream come true. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid."
Arguably Real’s key objective this season is La Decima—an unprecedented 10th European Cup/Champions League triumph.
“The Champions League is a massive reason for me coming here. I didn’t want to just been playing in it, I want to win it. A club like Real Madrid is exactly the place I want to be to win things. I’m sure that everyone in the club wants to win it and I definitely want to help achieve that goal and the 10th one (La Decima).”
Bale addressed the crowd with a few words in Spanish during his presentation
Refreshingly, Bale clearly has no ego and the huge transfer fee is not of his concern, as he pointed out:
"The transfer has got nothing to do with me, that's between Real Madrid and Tottenham. I wanted to come here, even if it was for a penny."
Although he came to prominence with Spurs playing in an attacking wide left position, Bale made his name as a left-back with Southampton. In addition to the defensive side of his game, the world-record transfer holder was played in an array of forward positions by then-coach Andre Villas-Boas during his final season with Tottenham.
With this in mind, Carlo Ancelotti has plenty of options in accommodating the Welsh star.
In addition, Bale will now be reunited with his ex-Spurs team-mate of four seasons, Luka Modric. The two remained in contact following the Croatian’s move to Madrid last season.
Real’s official website reported Bale as saying, “I know Luka Modric and I’m sure I’ll get it him to help me settle a bit easier."
At the beginning of August, Cristiano Ronaldo displayed little enthusiasm when he was quizzed regarding his views on the potential Bale deal. Jack De Menezes of the Independent reported the Portuguese Ballon d'Or runner-up as saying:
"In terms of the transfer fee, you should speak to the coach and president about that. I have my opinion, but I'm not going to reveal it in front of the cameras."
With this in mind, it was not outrageous to suggest that possibly the two may lock horns at the Bernabeu. However, Bale quickly dispelled that notion as he wasted no time in praising his new team-mate.
BBC reported Bale declaring: "Cristiano is the best player in the world and he was a factor for me in deciding to come here. He is the boss here and I want to learn from him."
Furthermore, Sky Sports documented Bale's publicly endorsement by Iker Casillas, who claimed Bale was "one of the top three or four players in Europe." His comments supplemented the views of Sergio Ramos and Zinedine Zidane, which should have a positive impact in helping the Welshman settle in quickly.
Gary Lineker, the ex-England striker who played at FC Barcelona for three seasons during the late 1980s, passed on invaluable advice. As reported by David Kent in the Daily Mail, the ex-Spurs, Everton and Leicester goal poacher said:
"From someone who did something similar eons ago, one piece of advice: Learn Spanish. Communication is vital. His football will do the rest."
Bale was already one step ahead of the game since he addressed supporters at the Bernabeu in Spanish, per the BBC, "It is a dream to be here in Madrid. Thank you for this welcome."
Obviously this was a considerable improvement to David Beckham's introduction 10 years ago of "Gracias" and "Hola Madrid," as reported by Jimmy Burns in La Roja.
Bale earned the praise of managers all over Europe
Gareth Bale's breathtaking exploits last season earned ample praise, from the terraces all the way through to the tea ladies (a fair assumption).
Yet it is the managers and coaches comments which hold the most water and suggest Bale is good enough to be the latest Galactico at the Bernabeu.
"If you see his goal today, or his goal against West Ham, it was not even a chance. He is a player who makes the difference and you are lucky if you have that. Not many teams do."
- Michael Laudrup, Swansea manager, following Spurs' 2-1 win over Swansea Daily Mail.
"We have really been beaten by Gareth Bale. There is nobody doing more for a football club than Gareth Bale for Tottenham. Every goal seems to be outside the box. It is not like he is tapping them in. If you get too tight to him, he skips past you. If you stand off him, he hits them like that."
"We are looking at a guy who can be the best player in the world for the next four or five years."
- Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid assistant manager before Bale was officially signed Daily Mail)
They were the words of Gary Lineker, who told the BBC:
"He's got it all. He showed that last season. Ability-wise he is phenomenal."
Bale won the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Young Footballer of the Year awards last season thanks to his excellent Spurs form of scoring 21 league goals in 33 Premier League appearances.
The Welshman became only the third man to win the PFA award twice (previously won it in 2011) behind Andy Gray and his new team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Witnessing Bale in full flow last season was an absolute delight. He scored 31 goals in all competitions and in accordance with Opta Joe, Bale scored the most goals from outside of the area in all of Europe's major football leagues.
Will Bale be a Los Blancos success? Absolutely. As Gary said earlier, "He's got it all."