After joining from Tottenham Hotspur back in September 2013 for a fee of around $104 million, Gareth Bale has never really succeeded in winning round the Real Madrid fans.
Despite scoring several vital goals in some of the club’s biggest matches, including the winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, the Welshman’s last few seasons with Los Blancos has seen the media and supporters write him off.
As a result, we’re going to consider whether the 30-year-old winger deserves more respect for his contributions to Madrid’s recent success.
Champions League Success
Between 2013 and 2018, Madrid won four Champions League trophies, with three of those coming in consecutive seasons. During that time, Bale played a vital role in their sustained European success. Most notably, the Welshman scored twice in the second half of the 2018 final when Los Blancos overcame Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in Kiev. Furthermore, after Sergio Ramos equalized in the 93rd minute against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final, the 30-year-old put Carlo Ancelotti’s side in front during extra time. Since moving to Madrid, the versatile winger has scored 16 Champions League goals for the 33-time La Liga-winning team but still fails to gain the respect that he perhaps deserves.
Throughout the years, European success has been central to the identity of Real Madrid, and it can be argued that, without Bale, Los Merengues wouldn’t have won as many modern-day titles. At present, the Champions League is integral to the status of contemporary football and is well-known in popular culture, with many regarding it as more important than domestic competitions. In recent years, popular video game franchises such as FIFA, Football Manager and Pro Evolution Soccer have placed an increased emphasis on gaining the necessary licenses to ensure a lifelike virtual experience of the competition. Moreover, online casino platforms such as NetBet have developed several titles like Champion’s Goal and The Champions, which draws on the European stages’ atmospheric and immersive nature.
Has He Earned Respect?
When his move to Jiangsu Suning fell through in the latest summer transfer window, Bale’s first-team opportunities appeared limited after the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo. However, since the start of the season, the Welshman has started six of Los Blancos’ opening eight matches in La Liga. During those fixtures, the 30-year-old has been involved in four goals thus far, which have helped Zidane’s side open up a two-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league.
Following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus back in 2018, Madrid have struggled to replace the Portuguese international. While Bale has been involved in 171 goals during his time in the Spanish capital, his fitness and injury problems have impacted his ability to develop into a world-famous Galactico. Crucially, however, his goal-scoring contributions cannot be undervalued, and, if Bale can take Madrid to their first league title in three seasons, then he will undoubtedly be deserving of the supporter’s respect.
Time Will Tell
Despite his struggles, Bale’s on-field performances have taken Madrid to record-breaking success throughout his Santiago Bernabeu career. Although much remains unclear, only time will tell if the Welshman can earn the respect of the Los Blancos faithful.