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Is Bale back?

Is Bale back?

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For years, Gareth Bale has been something of an enigma. He’s never really fully developed into the player we hoped he’d be, but as he restarts his career against at Real Madrid, could this season be the one when he catches fire?


Transcript

Chloe Beresford: Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story, every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today, Gareth Bale’s returned to Real Madrid with a bang, but after years of false dawns and rumours about his future, does he have anything left to prove? Or to give?

***

“It’ll have to happen after the Euros. I know what I’m doing, but it’ll just cause chaos if I say anything.”

Gareth Bale

“It’ll just cause chaos.” 

Four words from Gareth Bale sent fans and pundits into a spin.

But it turns out that the ‘chaos’ was anything but. 

Gareth Bale went back to his parent club, Real Madrid, after captaining Wales at Euro 2020, and he’s playing football… well, as usual. He started in Madrid’s first two games in the La Liga season, and scored after five minutes last weekend in their 3-3 draw against Levante.

So what is going on with Gareth Bale? Did he really mean what he said about ‘chaos’ earlier this summer? And does his early season form hint that he may have rediscovered his love for the game?

“At the minute, he’s not scored for 14 games, and I heard you talking about it Laura, is he going to retire? Is he gonna carry on?” 

Dean Saunders, talkSPORT

Gareth Bale has endured a tumultuous few years. 

He fell out of favour at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, but because he was on a reported £600,000-a-week, Madrid found it impossible to move him on to a new club.

In July 2019 a move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning broke down at the last minute, and he was left, furious, on the Real Madrid bench.

He found a sliver of hope last season when Tottenham Hotspur signed him on loan. It was a kind of homecoming to the club that turned him from young prospect to global superstar.

And he had a reasonably successful spell there. 

He scored 16 goals in 34 games. It was a good return to form, but it wasn’t spectacular. 

So, yet again, questions were raised towards the end of last season about what next for Gareth Bale?

“News on Gareth Bale now, we’ve been talking to his agent who says his client’s future is pretty much up in the air. Bale’s been on loan of course at Tottenham, still has a year left on his Real Madrid contract…”

Jim White, Sky Sports News

After those ‘chaos’ comments, rumours started flying around. They ranged from the reasonable – like, would he return to Spurs? Or would Real Madrid welcome him back?

To the slightly alternative – at one point his hometown club, Championship side Cardiff City, were the bookmakers favourite to sign him, and a few people suggested he might retire from football altogether.

There was even a rumour in the Spanish press that he was going to turn professional in golf. But his agent understandably dismissed that one.

Despite all this, Gareth Bale simply found himself back at Real Madrid. But not quite the same club he’d left – because they’d appointed Carlo Ancelotti as manager over the summer. That’s important, because he managed Gareth Bale in his first stint as manager between 2013 and 2015.

Ancelotti rates Bale highly, and he may well hold the key to his future in Madrid. 

It’s not just good news for Real Madrid, either.

Wales manager Rob Page described Gareth Bale as having ‘found the bug’ for playing again. 

So did Gareth Bale really mean his ‘chaos’ comments earlier in the summer? Or was it just a case of him keeping the press, and fans, guessing? 

Since he said them before Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival, it may well have been that he did have other plans, before being welcomed back at Real Madrid. 

What’s for sure is that a fit and firing Gareth Bale is good for football. 

It’s easy to forget, given his injuries, and lack of game time in recent years, we’re talking about a player who was at one time the most expensive in the world. 

All of this could be another false dawn for Gareth Bale. But let’s be optimistic. Maybe this season we’re going to witness the start of his Indian summer. 

Today’s episode was written by Andrew Butler and produced by Klong.