The club's £86 million signing from Tottenham Hotspur made his switch in 2013, but in just his second season, he became a scapegoat for many of the Bernabeu crowd. When things didn't go well, he would find himself in the firing line.
Some didn't like his style of play—they thought he was too greedy. Others thought he was not worthy of his Galactico status.
It was in March 2015 that Bale considered for the first time whether he might need to find a way out. He had one goal from nine games and had found himself under fire—along with a few other Madrid starters—for struggling to progress in the UEFA Champions League.
They got past Schalke despite a 4-3 home defeat, yet fans were furious. As reported in the Daily Mail from the time, as Bale left the stadium that night: "Supporters appeared to abuse him, yelling: 'Son of bitches! Assh--e! Gay!' before one said: 'Male prostitute Welshman.'"
It was a bad time, and one source close to the 30-year-old told Bleacher Report that things could have turned out very differently. "He was torn over whether to return to the Premier League—Manchester United were keen on him at the time—or whether to stay, fight and win people over.
"He quickly decided to stay another year and attempt to win over the doubters."
That year has turned into four, but now Bale finds himself in 2019 dealing with more abuse from the stands.
You would think he had done enough to win over the critics. He has won the Champions League four times with Real since 2014 and was the hero of their 2018 success over Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine. Bale has played 240 games, scored 104 goals and made 67 assists.
Yet his decision to dance behind a Wales flag with the words "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" while celebrating his country's qualification for UEFA Euro 2020 riled the Madrid locals. This time, you have to wonder if this really is his final season in Spain.
Gareth Bale posing with a Welsh flag with "WALES. GOLF. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER" written on it. Ex Real star Predrag Mijatovic recently said: 'The first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid. I haven't spoken to him but that's how he comes across.' https://t.co/WLEWskgVRy
Bale's injury issues have tainted his time at Real Madrid—sports news outlet AS even gave him the nickname "Mr Glass" because of the number of matches he was forced to miss. His teammates nicknamed him "The Golfer" because of how much time he spends on the fairway.
According to Transfermarkt, Bale has missed 77 matches during his time at the club. With that in mind, you can understand why some fans might have felt disrespected to see him joking about the club not being his priority.
Despite all the negative headlines from his time on the continent, sources close to the player insist he enjoys his life there. He's kept close friends and family around him at all times to deal with any homesickness, and he has been able to shrug off most of the stick that has come his way.
The source told B/R: "One of the things that has been discussed publicly about him quite a few times is the fact he is not part of the team because he misses team nights out.
"The truth behind that is quite simply that he doesn't like having dinner at 10:30 p.m. as most of the team do and as is usual in Spain. He prefers to have his tea earlier, relax at home with his family, and go to bed. It's strange that he gets criticised for not wanting to be out late—but that's the way it's been."
Bale was booed in his first match back from Wales international duty on Saturday as Madrid beat Real Sociedad 3-1. He came on as a substitute but played so well in his 23-minute stint that some fans were clapping him again by full-time. There was a better reception after coming off the bench again when they faced Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and he almost scored the winner when his free-kick hit the post with just 30 seconds remaining.
Bale's contract runs to 2022, but there is a growing feeling around Madrid that he will be sold at the end of this season. So could he now return to Tottenham and forge an incredible link-up with Jose Mourinho?
It's a dream scenario for fans of the north London club, but the terms of such a transfer would be incredibly tricky.
Bale earns more than £600,000 per week in Spain—about three times the figure Harry Kane currently picks up as Spurs' top earner.
Chairman Daniel Levy ripped up his normal pay structure to accommodate Kane on his terms and would have to show incredible negotiating skills to find a space for Bale on the payroll.
Interestingly, though, one informed intermediary told Bleacher Report that Levy would be open to the prospect of a Bale return—if that is what Mourinho believes would be needed.
It is thought he even put the idea to Mourinho during talks before he took the job. One source suggested Spurs might even be tempted to try a cheeky loan offer for Bale in January if he is unhappy with his situation. But such a move would be unlikely, unless it was to lead to a permanent agreement.
An emotional return to Spurs would possibly rely on Bale showing as much sentiment as ambition, as others will also want him.
Manchester United have tried on multiple occasions to sign the Welshman and will no doubt be linked again soon. Paris Saint-Germain are also going to be in the running if Bale looks to move on—while there is also the threat of him moving to China, as seemingly nearly happened when Jiangsu Suning made him an offer in July.
Such a move could crop up again, but Madrid could also use Bale to their advantage as they attempt to revamp their own squad in 2020.
Those interested clubs—Spurs, United and PSG—all own players who Madrid are keen to sign, in the shape of Christian Eriksen, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.
Of the three, PSG have the strongest case for making Bale part of a direct deal while also being able to offer him a mouthwatering package of his own.
Bale has shown he can handle pressure, criticism and abuse during his time in Spain, but this could be the time to make a change.