Gareth Bale’s world record breaking £85.3 million transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid is on the one hand a huge and prestigious opportunity for the Welshman but, on the other hand, a great weight of expectation to place on the young man’s shoulders.
Being the most expensive footballer in history has its perks, I’m sure, but how will the 24-year-old handle the drawbacks in the Spanish capital? By drawbacks, the negatives, I mean the expectation, the pressure, the scrutiny, and the potential backlash.
He’s only just arrived and already he’s being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and the departed Mesut Ozil who, by all accounts, should have been kept at the Bernabeu but was ousted from the spotlight by Bale’s arrival.
His new teammates have all come out to state their disappointment, surprise and unhappiness at Ozil’s departure and whilst it’s clear they are also excited about Bale, there does appear to be some uneasiness about his value already and he hasn’t even made his debut yet.
Bale admitted he was nervous at the unveiling in front of just a few thousand fans – he struggled to keep his focus doing his ‘keepie-uppies’ – which doesn’t bode well for how he’ll cope with 80-odd thousand Real Madrid fans making their voices heard and their opinions known as he struts his stuff alongside some of the most talented, accomplished, and famous players on the planet.
He’s going to have to settle in straight away – they have no patience for adaptation, just ask Luka Modric – and he’s going to have to at least try to match the skill level and efficiency of Ronaldo, given that he eclipsed his transfer record, and he’s going to have to keep his nerve with all eyes on him.
At Tottenham, he never ever had that kind of expectation placed on him, nor that level of pressure – how is he going to handle a home game against Barcelona? He will have been briefed on the importance of such a fixture but actually going through the experience is going to be another thing entirely.
At White Hart Lane the team was constructed around him, specifically to facilitate his impact and effectiveness but he’s not going to get that at Real Madrid. That team is set up around Ronaldo (and formerly Ozil) and the system Carlo Ancelotti implements will for the most part stick to that script.
He’s going to have to compete with the other new signing Isco, as well as Modric, Ronaldo, and Angel Di Maria – not to mention youngster Jese Rodriguez who is also a darling of both club and country.
If he manages to hold it together to begin with, I’ll be both surprised and impressed but if he doesn’t he’s going to be in for the backlash – the scrutiny of his performance and the doubt over his ‘value’ – the young boy from Cardiff has the opportunity to fulfill his boyhood dream at the Bernabeu but it’s a fine line between the dream, the reality, and a £85.3 million nightmare.
image: © jansolo09