By Andrew Smith
Gareth Bale is Wales’ best ever export. With a huge new contract and a couple of goals at the weekend, the 26-year-old is in line to take the reins from Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
First and second
The Independent has counted down the Top 10 Highest Paid Footballers. Bale lands in at 2nd on £350,000 per week as Ronaldo reportedly earns a mere £15,000 more a week than the Welshman. A new deal, signed last week by Bale, was quickly topped by Ronaldo, who signed a deal to take him to 2021. The pair have asserted themselves as the two highest paid players in the game.
The Best of British
Only Jamie Vardy joins Bale as a British representative on the Ballon D’Or candidates list. The Welshman is fifth favourite to take the coveted football prize, with Ronaldo being a strong favourite. Gale’s meteoric rise to greatness arguably makes him the greatest British player since Bobby Charlton.
Paul Hayward, Chief Sports Writer for the Telegraph writes:
“Bale’s feat in establishing himself as Real royalty over such a long spell fails to draw the praise it deserves. The adding of noughts to his new contract – £600,000 a week gross, reports say – affirms that this special Welshman is becoming more and more important to the world’s most successful club. The deal could be seen as the beginning of the end of the Cristiano Ronaldo era at the Bernabéu, with Bale as the megastar.”
After Bale’s world record move, only eclipsed this summer by Paul Pogba’s transfer to Manchester United, the Welshman struggled to fit in at Madrid, often finding himself in the shadow of CR7. Bale’s white Bentley was famously kicked by Madrid fans after a 2-1 win defeat to Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Many news outlets reported a severe divide between Ronaldo and Bale, although this was refuted by the players.
After Ronaldo’s Portugal knocked out the Welsh and Bale in the semi-finals of Euro 2016, the pair embraced at the final whistle, putting to bed any rumours of a divide between the pair.
The first three years of Bale’s Madrid career are often regarded as shaky and unsuccessful by British fans. Many are arguably jealous of the pull that the Spanish top division has on the Premier League’s brightest talents. In his first three years at Real: Bale scored in a Champions League Final, grabbed a winner in a Copa Del Ray Final and scored a penalty in the shootout as Madrid defeated Atletico in the recent Champions League Final.
Ronaldo has had a remarkable career, and by many is regarded as one of the best ever, and even though the Portuguese winger intends to play until he’s 41, the spark will eventually fade. As the inevitable occurs, an opportunity arises for Bale to assert himself as the Madrid top dog. Many predict a battle between himself and Barcelona’s Neymar, to decide who is the world’s best.