HomeFootballThe enigma that is Gareth Bale

The enigma that is Gareth Bale

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If it was any other individual, one would have fervently prayed for him to be put out of his misery.

But then you remember that we are speaking about Gareth Bale, possibly the greatest enigma in the world of football right now, and you reserve your judgement.

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It seems there is nothing left to say about the Gareth Bale Saga, and yet nothing has been said.

It seems a grave injustice has been done to one of the greatest footballers of modern times and yet, you feel a lingering suspicion at the same time that it is Bale himself who has been unfair to the club he has been with since 2013.

Maybe, it is fairer to term this the Gareth Bale Paradox.

What do you make of the maverick Welshman’s current situation? He made £600,000 a week over the last month to mock-sleep and looked through faux binoculars on the bench even as his teammates successfully chased down the La Liga crown.

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Even saying he has played a bit part for the team since June will be an overstatement.

His agent has reportedly said that he and his family are so happy at Real Madrid that he is willing to continue doing this for the next two years till the time his contract finally expires.

So, is Gareth Bale the winner or loser here?

All downhill as a footballer

When the Welsh wide forward moved to the Bernabeu seven years ago, he was the most expensive footballer in the world, with Florentino Perez shelling out more money than he even did for Cristiano Ronaldo to bring him from Tottenham Hotspur.

Seven years and 13 trophies on, Gareth Bale’s legacy on the pitch is theoretically more illustrious than most Galacticos; yet, with all things Gareth Bale, nothing is as it seems.

Bale has achieved everything that Real Madrid would have expected of him and even more, but yet, as Zinedine Zidane’s wards showed remarkable cohesion and shed the Galactico image to reclaim the Liga crown, the 31-year-old wasn’t even considered good enough to come on as a substitute by the French coach.

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It is a tragic denouement for a footballer who has scored in two Champions League finals and won a jaw-dropping four of those climactic battles with the club.

He has netted 105 times and provided 68 assists while picking up every imaginable trophy as a Madridista.

In short, he would have been one of the most beloved footballers of all time for the Real Madrid faithful if he wasn’t Gareth Bale.

But does Gareth Bale mind?

For me, the crux of the enigma lies in this question. Does Gareth Bale actually want to play football anymore? Is he just an accidental footballer with superlative abilities who doesn’t love the game, or worse still, never ever loved it from the bottom of his heart?

Often, his legendary love for golf has come in the way of his professional duties as a top football player. Often, he seemed to care little for the club or the sport.

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He has also performed great feats on the pitch while not really bothering to integrate with the club or the city. His refusal to learn Spanish, his refusal to attend team dinners (past his bedtime) and his antics on the pitch have all alienated him from the club and its fans.

Yet, since his big-money move to China broke down, Gareth Bale has seemed quite content to hog the bench and rake in the money; an unimaginable situation for other superstars of the game like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

Maybe he wasn’t being entirely facetious when he unfurled that Welsh flag with the legendary words, Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.

Maybe that is how his priorities are ranked. It is no secret that the winger is at his passionate best when representing his country, a team he has taken to the semi-finals of the Euro.

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The biggest issues that coach Zinedine Zidane seems to have with Gareth Bale right now is his refusal to integrate with his system and show he cares enough right now. Maybe he has a point.

What’s next?

English pundits believe Real Madrid have never been grateful enough for the extraordinary success that Gareth Bale had helped bring to the club. His agent echoed the sentiment this week.

On the other hand, media in Madrid have always painted the opposite picture, saying the city and the fans accepted him with open arms and he turned them down with his indifference.

Perhaps, both pictures together paint the complete picture.

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But if Bale has truly lost his passion for the game (if he did have enough of it in the first place), then he has the best job in the world. He will be making millions while sitting on the bench with weekends free for golf in a city his family loves.

What more can a man want? His agent maintains that he is a thorough professional who trains hard every day. We don’t have a reason to not believe him.

Commitment and passion are, after all, not the same things. So has Gareth Bale figured out the perfect life? Are Real consigned to carry the white elephant till the end of his contract? Have we seen the last of this saga? As with all things Gareth Bale, we can never be certain.

Also Read: Premier League 2019-20: Fixtures and Predictions | Gameweek 38

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