Gareth Bale arrived at Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, and there was hope that he was going to be the man that could be the long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. However, nobody could have foreseen just how much criticism the Welshman would get from all corners of the Madrid fan base over the next six years.
It seemed destined that Bale would leave the club in the summer months after a well-publicised fall out with Zinedine Zidane. However, Madrid pulled the plug at the eleventh hour on a potential move that would have taken Bale to China amid concerns that they were losing out on a bigger fee for the winger. The situation has turned messy over recent weeks, and relations between the fans and Bale have reached an all-time low.
The recent setback in their relationship came after the Welshman was pictured with a flag that read ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order’. It may not have been the smartest move by Bale to be seen with that flag, but the reaction has been excessive. The media called for the Welshman to be fined, while he was also booed viciously when he took to the pitch in their recent La Liga clash with Real Sociedad.
Granted, Madrid fans should have been outraged, but have they taken it a little too far considering that the Welshman was only having a little fun with the Welsh fans that were singing the ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid’ song throughout their recent international fixture?
The Spanish press have regularly lamented the lack of interest that Bale has had throughout his stay in Madrid to this point. Back in May local reports claimed that Bale would prefer to be on the golf course than joining his Madrid teammates on a night out. While it is important to get along with teammates, the fact that Bale would not want to go on a boozy night out should be applauded.
There is also the fact that he hasn’t learned the Spanish language in the six years that he has spent with Madrid. That is certainly an issue where there isn’t a lot of support. He has spent adequate time in Madrid now that he should be able to speak at least a little bit of the local language.
There is certainly an argument that Bale has been the scapegoat for Madrid over the past couple of seasons. Having failed to make it past Ajax in the Champions League last season, Bale was voted as the worst performer of the season by Marca. That was a particular low-blow considering that the entire squad was struggling for form and there were certainly worse performers. Luka Modric endured a fall from grace 12 months after winning the Ballon d’Or, while Sergio Ramos was more preoccupied with making his own documentary than the events on the pitch during that fateful night in the Bernabeu.
He gets a much tougher ride than most of his teammates, despite having an incredible record for the club. He single-handedly won them the 2018 Champions League final with two goals in quick succession. It includes his memorable bicycle kick, which will go down as one of the best goals in the European final.
Bale was also the match-winner in the 2014 Champions League final, as he scored the deadlock-breaking second goal in extra time against Atletico Madrid. And who won’t remember that run in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, that could challenge a stallion in the Kentucky Derby horse race.
It is a testament to his character that he continues to come back and perform for the capital club, who are currently leading La Liga side by side with Barcelona. Despite being victimised this season, he has still managed two goals and two assists in his seven La Liga outings.
It is clear that the relationship between the two has gone stale, and it would seem only a matter of time before Bale actually leaves the club. But, it is worth remembering the good things that he has done during his time in Spain before fans are quick to blame him for all their shortcomings.