REAL MADRID

Is Gareth Bale on track to be best ever British export?

The Welsh international renewed his Real Madrid contract last week and will remain at the Santiago Bernabeu through to 2022.

Is Gareth Bale on track to be best ever British export?
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno Getty Images

Gareth Bale moved from North London based Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid on September 1, 2013 for a then world record transfer fee of 100.8 million euro.

His first campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu saw the Welshman adapt quickly to his new surroundings and ended the season scoring on 21 occasions providing 16 assists for a Real Madrid side then under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti.

Debut campaign with 2 trophies

The 2013/14 campaign was capped off in fine style for the Welshman with his excellent individual goal securing a late Copa del Rey 2-1 win for the side from the capital as they saw off perennial rivals FC Barcelona at Mestalla in April 2014. A Champions League win the following month in Lisbon secured the club's eleventh European Cup and saw Bale move into an elite group of British players playing aboard to have won the Champions League: Steve McManaman (Real Madrid), Paul Lambert (Dortmund) and Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) being the others.

Difficult second season

Things fared less well for the Welshman in his second term in Spain with injury hampering his continuity in the Real Madrid first team. Bale also suffered the ire of the infamous short temper of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd coming in for heavy criticism for not carrying out defensive responsibilities as Madrid's season imploded with defeat at Valencia ending the club's attempt to establish a world record for successive winning games. Apart from a FIFA World Club Cup trophy in Morocco the campaign ended poorly for the club with Barcelona winning both the Champions League and LaLiga title.

Madrid won the 2015/16 Champions League in a season that started with Rafa Benitez on the Bernabeu bench only to be replaced in January 2016 by current incumbent Zinedine Zidane. The campaign saw Bale play in a more central role and a goal for the Cardiff born player in a 4-0 win over Sevilla was enough for him to move ahead of Gary Lineker as highest scoring British player in the history of Spanish football with his 43rd LaLiga strike. 

The future looks bright for Bale. The 27 year old has finally won over the Bernabeu faithful, signed a new deal that will see him at the club through to 2022 and is an indisputable starter in the Real Madrid line-up and along with Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo (the "BBC" have bagged more than 300 goals for Real Madrid). He is also crucially a key player for Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. 

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his 2nd goal during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Leganes on November 6, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.

Gentle Giant

Bale's fellow Welshman John Charles is certainly an obvious reference point for the Real Madrid striker, Charles joined Juventus for a then British record of 65,000 pounds in 1957 and won three Serie A titles, scored 108 goals in 155 league games and was third in the 1959 Ballon d'Or. 

John Charles