Gareth Bale has had a tumultuous tenure with Real Madrid since his transfer back in 2013. The Welsh international was supposed to have achieved and reached a Balon d’Or level with the historic club. He was meant to be the heir apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo, or at least collaborate to form a deadly trio with Karim Benzema. Unfortunately, Bale was never able to achieve those lofty expectations due to injuries, poor form, and a strenuous relationship with his manager. Now Bale finds himself on the verge of a move that could ultimately send him into even further obscurity among Europe’s elite players. According to Marca, a Spanish newspaper outlet, Bale could be making the switch to Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League.
While it is no surprise that Bale and Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane, have it out for each other, it is astonishing the extent to how public their spat has become in recent weeks. It is drawing unwanted and unneeded attention to a club that needs to focus on an important La Liga and Champions League campaign as they look to catch rivals, Barcelona. At 29 years old, it is in the best interest of Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid in an attempt to revitalize his career. A move to China, however, would signal the end of his presence as an athlete playing in his prime against Europe’s best clubs.
Marca’s report comes at a rather strange time. Yes, Bale has consistently been linked to the Chinese Super League, but he has stated that he had no intentions of moving to China. Oddly enough, Marca wrote a report on July 10 claiming that Bale ruled out a switch to China due to the inferior quality of the league. A significant portion of the an unnecessary confusion falls on the club and Zidane specifically.
Cristiano Ronaldo had his own frustration with his treatment at Real Madrid, which ultimately led to his move to Juventus. The dealings with Bale has arguably been worse. He has been made out as a virus within the club and has become a scapegoat by the Los Blancos supporters even before the transfer rumors surfaced.
The poor perception towards Gareth Bale might revolve around his personality. He is seen as an introvert, which in and of itself is certainly not an issue, but can naturally alienate himself from his teammates, the media, and the supporters. It would be even more likely that Bale would feel lost in a China with a stronger language barrier and the greater distance from many of his peers in European competition.
The easiest comparison to make for Bale’s reported move to China is David Beckham’s switch to the MLS back in 2007. Beckham made the move to help raise awareness and popularity of the MLS and arguably laid the groundwork for the league’s future growth. The Chinese Super League has made a concerted effort in recent years to sign high profile players with ludicrous transfer fees to increase the leagues popularity. One major difference between Beckham’s move and Bale’s reported switch to China is age. David Beckham was 32 years old at the time of his move, and coming to the end of his prime. Bale, on the other hand, is in the prime of his playing career and still has the talent to be the best player at his future club.
David Beckham is a clear and effective spokesperson. His recent involvement as owner of Inter Miami, his outspoken demeanor while playing with the LA Galaxy, and a leader while at Manchester United demonstrate his knack for public relations. Gareth Bale has none of these qualities. He rarely gets involved with the Spanish media and would unlikely step out of his comfort zone in China. Sure Bale may simply need to be seen to make an impact on the Chinese Super League, but this move goes against everything Bale stands for.
The Chinese Super League transfer window shuts on July 31. If a move was to come to fruition, it must be at least in an advanced period of negotiation. Real Madrid’s strong desire to move on from Bale in conjunction with his injury history and poor form has resulted in a precipitous drop in his market value, which now sits at $68.40 million. Money talks and Madrid’s willingness to sell could hasten a move and Bale could be persuaded by an expensive contract. Sadly, Bale’s sale would represent an unfortunate resolution to his time at Madrid and would put an end to his club career in the spotlight.