Gareth Bale set for first season failure in Madrid

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Gareth Bale's protracted transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid is set to place the Wales international at the very summit of Galacticos the Spanish giants have recruited in their illustrious past.

The winger may not be the undoubted world's best, as Cristiano Ronaldo had been when he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the outlay of another world record fee makes Bale's place in the pantheon of Real Madrid icons already assured.

With Bale's name set to be forever etched into Madrid's esteemed tapestry, it now falls on the player to ensure his name is heralded in decades to come not just for his price-tag, but for his performances for Los Blancos.

Bale is set to arrive in Madrid after his most impressive season to date and, rightly or wrongly, the player will be expected to exceed his achievements from last term, given his addition to a more proficient group of players, and a domestic environment more suitable to his strengths.

But Bale even repeating his goalscoring exploits of last year - 26 in all competitions - represents an unrealistic target when becoming a less integral cog in an expensively assembled wheel.

A significant aspect of Bale's allure has been his ability from a dead ball situation, with the Spurs star mimicking the technique of Cristiano Ronaldo, right from the opening stance down to the point of contact.

Last season he was able to take his free-kick taking ability - already well regarded - to the next level, with every set-piece within shooting distance becoming a realistic goalscoring opportunity when he presided over the ball.

But, over at the Bernabeu, Madrid have the real deal in Ronaldo himself, who is perhaps the best free-kick goalscorer currently in operation in European football, and a player unlikely to relinquish his set-piece duties to the club's latest high-profile acquisition.

Bale's demotion from the free-kick frontline prompts the removal of a significant weapon in his armoury and provides an indication that his maiden campaign with Los Merengues will be one of disappointment, rather than one in which he will flourish.

Real Madrid's intense pursuit of Bale has been led by the club's president Florentino Perez who sees the player as the latest key component in his ever growing vanity project, that has resulted in the continual outlay of exorbitant sums.

Bale's recruitment, although no doubt cleared by Carlo Ancelotti, is not the brainchild of the Real Madrid manager but that of the club's power brokers, and the Italian is reported to have informed Perez that the player's acquisition is far from integral to his plans this season.

Ancelotti, as any manager would, will welcome the addition of Bale's quality, but the player's valuation does not provide him with instant access into a side which the manager has carefully crafted since his appointment this summer.

While Ronaldo remains with Real Madrid - and it appears that he will - Bale's role is that of an accomplice to the attack's undoubted leader, rather than that of chief tormentor.

He will not enjoy the prominence and faith which allowed him to become the Premier League's best during his time with Tottenham, which presents a culture shake up both on and off the pitch.

Bale has the attributes to rank alongside Ronaldo, Alfredo di Stefano and Raul in Real Madrid's unrivalled history but, one year on from now, £86 million may seem like a hefty price to pay for a support act.

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