Hey, Gareth Bale—no pressure, buddy.
Sure, you are now the subject of the most expensive transfer in the history of the sport. Sure, you have to replace a favorite at the club. Sure, that club just so happens to be Real Madrid, which turns princes into kings but just as quickly will identify the highly touted footballers that have been wearing the Emperor's new clothes all along.
And sure, you have to get along with Cristiano Ronaldo, the sport's biggest personality and a man whose talent is only matched by his ego.
So what I'm about to write will assuredly seem easier said than done, but it is the one thing that can diffuse all of the pressure you find yourself facing.
Just play your game, man.
Just march out onto that right wing, make your signature driving runs forward, cut inside, let fly with that infamous shot from distance and don't fret when Cristiano Ronaldo inevitably gyrates in anger after you fail to find him open in space.
He does that to everyone.
Don't concern yourself with the fact that a day after you were transferred, the team sold a favorite of his teammates and the supporters alike in Mesut Ozil. Ignore that Ronaldo was vocally displeased with that decision, or that the fans pleaded with Florentino Perez to keep him during your unveiling.
"Don't sell Ozil," they chanted. So make them chant "We love Bale," with your play.
Because if you dominate out on that wing—and if Isco dazzles them as he is wont to do as the new No. 10; mark it down, he is the new Andres Iniesta—they'll forget all about the German apple of their eye. You'll see.
And for heaven's sake, don't start thinking about yourself in terms of being a Galactico, or worse, don't start trying to prove that you are a Galactico. You may have been the most expensive transfer of all time, but you shouldn't have been. Not yet—you've had one great year.
Don't get cocky.
But don't start pressing either, trying to prove that you are worth all that money. Don't play outside of yourself. Don't let the lows get too low or the highs too high.
Just be yourself on the pitch. That's why Real Madrid wanted you in the first place.
Gareth Bale will be a _________ for Real Madrid.
And good lord, man, have fun. You are surrounded by some of the most talented footballers in the world. Take a moment to enjoy the brilliance around you. Be humble. Learn Spanish. Embrace the spectacle that is Real Madrid, don't hide from it. Treat "tiki-taka" as a curse word. Wear sunscreen.
For now, Mr. Bale, ignore the pressure and play your game. Eventually you'll have to embrace it, because pressure never really goes away at Real Madrid, but you'll have time to settle into that.
If you do what you did at Tottenham last season, you'll be a huge hit. Ignore all the outside noise and just play.
But yeah, that's easier said than done.