Sure, there may have been no fans present, but the players and staff were doing their best to make it a memorable night for everyone involved with the club. It was a time for celebration, having battled their way to the top, fighting just as hard to remain there.
The players were ecstatic, singing and shouting, with the champagne flowing. Zinedine Zidane, meanwhile, described the title win as ‘better than anything’. As the players flung Zidane into the air, there were smiles on the faces of most, either as they watched on or took part in the celebrations.
But for Gareth Bale, he appeared to be merely an outsider looking in, arms folded and standing away from the celebrations. The Welshman clearly had little intention of being involved and Bale continued to adopt this attitude throughout the night. Indeed, as the players chanted ‘Campiones’ while grouped together for a photo, Bale was almost out of the picture and showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
This is in stark contrast to the wild celebrations that he was at the heart of when Wales overcame Hungary to book their spot at Euro 2020 back in November 2019. Of course, Bale added fuel to the Spanish media fire when he stood on the turf with a ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order” flag.
Sure, it could perhaps be viewed as disrespectful, but the fact of the matter was that he was – and still is – being disrespected and it was merely a lighthearted gesture to hit back at the Spanish media. After all, if Bale so much as breathes, the press in Spain have been keen to jump on it and use it as ammunition to highlight just how little Bale cares for the club.
Bale doesn’t see eye to eye with Zidane, that much is clear. The Frenchman claimed it would be best for the forward to move on last summer, but when a move to China was agreed, Los Blancos opted to block the move as they demanded a transfer fee.
Although he played some role in the first half of the 2019/20 season, he only managed 373 minutes of action in the second half of the league campaign. Not only that, but Bale didn’t play any part at all in his side’s final seven league games and didn’t even make the bench for the final match. Of course, Zidane also claimed that he preferred not to be selected for the recent Champions League clash with Manchester City.
Some may view Bale’s decision to ask Zidane not to select him for the tussle with City as unprofessional, but the reality is that he was never going to play. Perhaps the most ironic thing about the situation is that he is exactly what Real were crying out for at the Etihad.
Even after this latest debacle, his agent came out and claimed Bale would not be going anywhere this summer. He’s even said to be prepared not to play for two years until he becomes a free agent. But this is where the former Tottenham man must draw the line. The saga has gone on for too long.
Bale has continued to dominate the headlines in Spain, whether it be for his gestures from the bench during matches or for enjoying some golf in his spare time. When it comes to stories linking him with a move away, these are quickly shut down due to the fact most clubs can’t afford his wages.
But with each passing day, Bale’s legacy as an outstanding footballer is being tarnished. Sure, he’s won everything there is on offer to him and yes, he’s making a ridiculous amount of money at the moment for not doing very much at all. As a result, the easy option would be for him to simply stay put and carry on down the path he’s on.
But this wouldn’t be fair on him and on footballing fans around the world, as well.
This is a player who has given fans countless unforgettable memories and at 31, it isn’t exactly like he has time on his side. But with still so much to offer, why waste the remaining years of his career only to prove a point?
At this moment in time, Bale’s in a toxic environment. The fans have turned against him, the media scrutinise every move he makes and the manager has absolutely no plans to use him. It isn’t healthy and shouldn’t be accepted due to the circumstances.
For footballing reasons and for his own well-being, it’s time for Bale to take serious steps to secure a move away this summer.
Some may question whether a move is even possible considering his wages, but this simply isn’t true. Bale has been earning somewhere in the region of £500,000 a week during his time in Madrid, but this amount of money is nothing more than a luxury and at this stage in his career, this shouldn’t be his priority.
The likes of Manchester United – who are fighting hard to sign Jadon Sancho – or Tottenham are in need of a player like Bale. But, of course, no club is going to match his current wages. But if he were to offer to take a major wage cut in order to secure a move to a team like United or Spurs, clubs wouldn’t dare hesitate to miss an opportunity to bring him in, considering what he can offer.
A move to a new club will provide Bale with the chance to start fresh and try and rediscover his love for the game, playing in an environment where he isn’t vilified and made to be the scapegoat for a club’s problems. For a player with his talent, he will succeed wherever he goes as long as he stays fit.
One thing is clear at this moment in time: the situation isn’t healthy for anyone. The saga needs to stop and this can be done if Bale pushes for a move. The club’s decision to block his move last summer was different as Zidane intended to play him when necessary. But now, Bale couldn’t be further from the first team.
One of the world’s best talents has been sidelined and discredited for too long. It’s time he stole the limelight back – for the right reasons.