From a Galactico to a fallen star – How Bale’s career unfolded at Real Madrid?

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Real Madrid broke the transfer record to land Gareth Bale for € 100.8m at the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2013. After the numbers became public then Barcelona coach Tata Martino commented that ‘the numbers for Bale are a lack of respect for the rest of the world. ‘

However, for Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid President, La Decima, or the tenth UEFA Champions League title, had become an obsession and he thought that the Wales international is the perfect man who would help them accomplish the mission. He stood vindicated as in Lisbon 2014, Bale scored the second goal in Madrid’s 4-1 win against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

In that season, he also scored the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona as he outsprinted Marc Bartra from the halfway line before finishing past Jose Pinto. “It is difficult to see a player sprint like that at that stage of the game,” Martino commented after the match. Bale finished the season with 22 goals and 16 assists, while the attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale amassed 97 goals.

In the next season, Bale continued his scoring form in the final, this time in the FIFA Club World Cup. He scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over San Lorenzo to help his club bag the Club World Cup. However, a calf injury in April saw him miss the business end of the season, much to the dismay and annoyance of the Madrid fans.

However, he made a strong start to the season in 2015 and looked in good form. He scored four against Rayo Vallecano in a 10-2 win and then went on to bag another hat-trick against Deportivo in what was Zinedine Zidane’s first match as a head coach. In the UEFA Champions League, he was a regular starter and even assisted Sergio Ramos’ opener in the final. The Welsh man was flying high after winning his second Champions League in just three seasons. He was handsomely rewarded for his performances on the pitch as he signed a new contract which would keep him at the Bernabeu until June 2022 which included a hefty pay rise.

Soon after, injuries started bothering him. He damaged his ankle tendons in December which ruled him out for four months. He came back in the Clasico against Barcelona but had to be subbed again as he felt some discomfort once again. After being on the sidelines for more than a month, Zidane was able to field him again in the Champions League final in his hometown in Cardiff, against Juventus.

The 2017-18 season saw Bale regain his best form. In La Liga, he scored 16 goals in 26 appearances but he had saved his best for another Champions League final. Bale scored a brace against Liverpool, the first an overhead kick from the edge of the box which stunned even Zidane on the sidelines, the man who knows a thing or two about scoring breathtaking goals in the Champions League final. Whereas, the second was a screamer from a long distance that went through the hands of keeper Loris Karius.

After the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, it was Bale who took up the mantle. He scored a hat-trick in the Club World Cup and was awarded the golden ball for his performances in the tournament. However, his constant injury-enforced absense saw him lose favor among the club fans. HIs form also waned. In 29 league appearances, he could score just eight goals. In the summer of 2019, he wanted a move to Jiangsu Suning but Madrid was reluctant to let him leave. In November, during an international match with Wales, he was seen celebrating with his country flag with a message, “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order”. This further infuriated the Madrid faithful and by the end of the season, the relationship had completely broken down. Moreover, he made just 16 appearances in the league and scored two goals.

In the summer of 2020, he rejoined Tottenham on a loan deal for a year. Although he could not replicate his performances from the glory days, he was decent enough for the London side and scored 11 goals in 20 Premier League appearances. In 2022, he returned to his parent club and has struggled for minutes. In fact, even in Madrid’s last game of the season at the Bernabeu, Ancelotti did not name him in the matchday squad and the player had to take his place in the player’s box in the stands. However, the Italian manager has dropped some hints that he could play a part in the upcoming Champions League final in Paris. If given an opportunity, can he lit up the stage once again or will he bow out with a whimper, like a fallen star?

How many goals and assists does Gareth Bale have with Real Madrid?

How many trophies have Gareth Bale won with Real Madrid?

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