An expensive spectator

Gareth Bale during a league game last year. reuters
Gareth Bale during a league game last year. reuters
  • Professionally, life at Real Madrid for Gareth Bale is tough; personally, life is good

Gareth Bale used to be a footballer who divided defences, now he's a man who divides opinion.

In the opinion of Real Madrid, their manager and supporters, he's a waste of space who is drawing £600,000 euros per week for doing very little. He needs to be drummed out of town as soon as possible.

In the opinion of his fans and representatives, he's a world-class footballer who is honouring a contract in a professional manner and he's going nowhere.

There's truth in both of those opinions. The Spanish giants are no longer getting value for money; however that isn't the fault of the Welshman.

Often footballers are judged by their medal haul. Bale's cabinet overflows with four Champions League wins, two Liga titles and Copa del Rey winners medal from the day he scored an incredible solo goal against the archenemy Barcelona.

His incredible overhead kick in 2019 against Liverpool will go down as one of the greatest European Final goals of all time. Given the above facts, he should be enjoying legendary status at the Bernabéu.

Yet, Bale is booed whenever he plays in front of his home fans. Ok, fans aren't let into the ground right now but then again Bale isn't allowed onto the pitch either. He's not featured in any of the last seven games and didn't even travel to Manchester for last week's final game.

So, what happens next? It's clear that manager Zinedine Zidane won't include him in his plans. The hierarchy need to get his €2.4m per month off the payroll. It almost happened last summer when a deal was struck with Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning. Bale wasn't keen but the wage increase to €1 million per week was compensation for leaving behind his luxurious life in Spain.

When Real halted the deal, Bale had no other option; he had to stay. The club won the league although he only started 12 of the games and filled his latter game days being filmed as he made a bandage roll into a periscope or fiddled with the mandatory face mask.

Professionally life is tough as he sits on the periphery of the team. Personally, life is good as he lives with his wife and kids in a dream villa just a short drive away from his beloved golf course.

They use his addiction to golf as a club to beat him with. Compare this to the destructive addictions of many sportsmen and he's almost the model pro.

Real are undoubtedly going to have to take a financial hit if they are to free his peg in the locker room. They may have to pay half, or even all, of his wages.

Bale, the footballer must want a challenge and noises have been made by pals at Tottenham about him returning there. Spurs are notoriously prudent so there would have to be hard bargaining at board room level. I'm not sure any other top-level teams would want to break the bank for a 31-year-old.

So, it looks like a long stand-off as Bale sits tight and the club try to find a solution.

Expect the TV cameras to have a weekly feature during matches where they cut away to capture the bored Bale playfully filling his time as the most highly paid spectator, and amateur golfer, of all time. This may continue until his contract expires in summer 2022.