Signed by Real Madrid, Gareth Bale isn’t just the most expensive footballer in the world now. He’s a superstar, which has nothing to do with his previous ability for Wales or Tottenham, and has everything to do with the identity of his new club and the price tag attached to his back.
While Bale performed at the highest level the Premier League has to offer last season, scoring 21 league goals for Tottenham, he wasn’t the kind of name that is actually known in almost every house in a football-loving country. For those following the Premier League, it wasn’t a problem. But for the rest, who only get to know footballers when they’re at a certain level of fame, Bale was an unknown.
He didn’t play for a club with a huge international support, and had only one season of Champions League experience. Playing for Wales on the international level, which means probably never making the World Cup or the European Championship, before, now or in the future, didn’t really help build a name for himself.
But Bale still got the huge price tag as Tottenham made no intention of lowering their price. It’s hard to say if the tabloids and media were actually those who pushed the price up, or if it was actually the intent of the club to ask for that kind of sum, but Real Madrid agreed to pay, regardless.
Bale didn’t play, spending 90 minutes on the bench, as the Welsh side lost to Macedonia in Skopje during the World Cup qualifiers. However, Bale was in the center of attention as two fans approached him while he was warming up on the pitch between the two halves. Things like that didn’t happen before, even if he was just as good as he is now. It’s all about the club he’s playing for, immediately making him one of the most recognizable sport figures in the world.
Gareth has been a great player for two or three years but he’s gone to the club where he has with a record move. We have to control the circus, it’s new territory. We have to handle it and we will. We have people here to look after the players, we’ve had more this week for obvious reasons. We have to sit down and plan differently how we do things because that is what is going to happen. It’s quite new to us.
Bale says his dream has always been to play for Real Madrid. Maybe that’s true. But it’s not quite clear if being this famous and having your life take a change for the worse in certain aspects, which fame, money and notoriety always does to a person, was also part of his grand plan.