Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid appears to be drawing ever closer to completion after the Spanish giants began selling replica shirts with Bale’s name on the back on their official website.
The transfer will see the Welshman become the most expensive footballer of all time, as his transfer fee is almost certain to eclipse the £80m Real paid for Ronaldo in 2009, and transform him into one of the most famous players in the world.
Bale has no choice over the size of his transfer fee, yet that is irrelevant. The reality is that the astronomical figures involved will put him under intense pressure to perform from the fans and media.
Bale could reportedly also face further pressure in the form of a mutiny from his future teammates. According to The Daily Express, senior players such as Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil have voiced their opposition to Madrid's pursuit of the Cardiff-born star.
In the face of pressure from fans, journalists and fellow players alike, Bale will hope to settle into life at Madrid as quickly as possible to avoid enduring a similar fate to fellow Brit Michael Owen. Owen joined Madrid in 2004 as one of Europe's hottest talents, yet left only a year later after struggling to adapt to life in Spain.
Owen, speaking about Bale's situation, said: "From a football point of view, I think Bale would do particularly well. But I think for any player going from these shores to Spain, it is a lot different to how you first imagine it."
Cristiano Ronaldo is also said to be unhappy that Bale will replace him as the world's most expensive footballer. He told reporters in America: “I have my own opinion about the signing of Bale, but I’m not going to reveal it."
At a club as big as Real Madrid, rumours of player politics are common. Bale can nullify his problems with exceptional performance and there is no doubt he has the talent to do so. Considering the quality of Tottenham's squad last season, his tally of 21 Premier League goals in 34 games was nothing short of remarkable.
Bale was recognised by the PFA and football writers as the Premier League's best player last season. If he does arrive at Madrid, he should continue to develop as a player and succeed at one of the world's biggest clubs. However, if he makes a slow start, he risks being added to a list that includes Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder as top players who have failed to establish themselves at Real Madrid.
The £80m Real Madrid shelled out to buy Ronaldo now looks like a bargain. If Bale can reach anywhere near the same level of performance he will be a success in Spain.
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