Real Madrid: The reasons behind Gareth Bale's rupture with the club and the fans
The recent comments by Bale's agent were the last straw. Before that, there was his slow adaptation, jokes aimed at the club, little participation, too much golf...
The breakdown between Real Madrid and Gareth Bale is beyond repair. This season,Bale's final year at the club as his contract comes to an end, was supposed to be one of reconciliation between player and club before they go their separate ways. But a run of injuries and his predeliction for Wales has soured the relationship and the recent criticism of Madrid's fans by his agent Jonathan Barnett was the last straw.
We take a look at what went wrong between Bale and Madrid - an alliance which produced four Champions League titles and a host of other trophies, but which is now coming to an end with the feeling that perhaps he should have left a long time ago.
During the 2014-15 season, Bale's second at Real Madrid, his complained to the president about his position in the team. Those complaints came via his agent. Barnett went directly to Florentino, who in turn discussed it with the coach. Ancelotti explained what happened in his book: "I told the president that I wasn't thinking about doing anything, I couldn't change the formation halfway through the season. My relationship with Florentino was never the same after that. I spoke with Bale, I asked him why he hadn't discussed it with me. I prefer not to talk to agents about these things".
Bale's obsession is to lead his national team to their first World Cup finals since Sweden 1958. He has already managed to guide Wales to the Euros twice, ending as semi-finalists in France 2016 and being one of best players at the tournament. But his preference for Wales has been noted- as was his clear lack of respect for Madrid, by posing with the famous "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" banner. In doing so, he mocked the club and insinuated that playing golf was more important than giving his best for a club that pays him 30 million euros gross per season. His most recent injury was another example - he went on international duty with Wales after having not played a single minute for Madrid since 28 August and came back injured. In March, when Wales will be trying to book their place at the World Cup via the play-offs, there is a good chance he will do the same.
"I don't watch football on TV, to be honest I only watch golf". In February 2019, he was caught making his his way into the Ciutat de València, minutes before a game, following a golf tournament on his mobile phone. In July of that same year, he didn't travel with the squad to Munich to play the Audi Cup due to muscular twinges, but that didn't stop him from putting in a few rounds of golf while his team mates were playing; the same thing happened in 2020, when he voluntarily ruled himself out of a trip to Manchester. It seems he has no problem playing golf even when he is recovering from muscle injuries.
A lack of commitment
Bale has left the Bernabéu several times before a match has ended, which has angered the fans - even if he is entitled to - the old rulebook states that players who are not involved a game are free to quit the stadium after 80 minutes.
His understanding of Spanish is limited - especially when it comes to speaking the language, as Marcelo let slip: "In the dressing room, on one side there was Kiko Casilla, but he left and now I have Bale sat next to me. But he doesn't say anything, and only talks in English, I say "Hi", "hello" and "goodbye" but that's about as far as the conversation goes". There have also been countless dinners where Bale was the only member of the squad not to attend. When he leaves Madrid in June 2022, he will leave behind a lot of team mates... but few who he has managed to forge a real friendlship with.
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