So, José Mourinho is taking Gareth Bale off Real Madrid’s hands. Zinedine Zidane couldn’t stand having him around for even a minute longer. The lad has done his level best to make himself unbearable, true; but Zidane’s inability to drag the Welshman out of his self-absorbtion nonetheless remains a failing on the Frenchman’s part. Bale was never going to be the Ballon d’Or winner Florentino Pérez had kidded himself he’d become, as the president sought to pit someone against Cristiano Ronaldo within the team. But he is a player blessed with speed, a belting left-footed shot and wonderful heading ability. A player with the wherewithal to score goals, at a club that has sorely lacked them ever since Cristiano departed. Eden Hazard managed one last term. Luke Jovic, two.
Bale could never have the role he wanted at Real Madrid
Now Bale returns to Tottenham Hotspur, where he made his name on the footballing stage. I still remember his first game at the Bernabéu, for Spurs. He played as a left-back, and I thought he was sensational. He was signed by Madrid despite not being needed, though. He pushed Ángel di María out (and wasn’t an improvement on the Argentine, who continues to perform), scored a handful of memorable goals (his efforts against Barcelona at Mestalla and Liverpool in Kiev stand out), but petered out. For Wales, he plays where he wants, operating as the fulcrum of the side between midfield and attack, roving from wing to wing and shooting whenever he pleases. He could never have that at Madrid, so sought refuge in golf and only came out of his isolation to make some sort of insolent gesture.
Bale exit will leave Pérez disappointed - with Zidane
Bale had become a financial burden on Real Madrid, and it remains to be seen how the clubs will share out his cost. His departure will leave Pérez feeling disappointed, but not with him. With Zidane. He’ll feel he could have handled Bale more adeptly. The coach’s disdain for Sergio Reguilón hasn’t gone down well at the club, either. He’s off to Tottenham on a five-year deal, albeit with a buy-back option - a clause Zidane is utterly indifferent to, given his low opinion of the defender. They clashed in their time together with Castilla, the club’s ‘B’ team. Like Dani Ceballos, Reguilón can only return to the Bernabéu if Zidane is no longer there. There are things about his coach that bring a ‘harrumph’ out of Pérez, but Zidane is backed up by so many trophies that the president has to put up with them.