If there is a lack of class being shown at Real Madrid, it is coming directly and only from the President, Florentino Perez.
Mesut Ozil was a casualty of the needless Gareth Bale transfer, being shipped out despite being the team’s most important attacker – no, it’s not Cristiano Ronaldo – and subsequently having his name dragged through the mud in order to fight the backlash from supporters and players.
There’s already some degree of clarity as to what Ronaldo thinks of the Bale transfer. Earlier in the summer he said that he “had an opinion but would keep it to himself,” hardly the kind of stance that indicates the Welshman would receive a warm welcome from the club’s leading name. Following the Ozil transfer on deadline day, Ronaldo again spoke of his disappointment and anger, outlining the understanding he had with the German on the pitch and that no one understood him like Ozil.
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It’s not really a matter of a lack of respect shown towards Bale, though he will need to earn a place in the Real Madrid dressing room. Instead, the feeling from in house is that the Ozil transfer was completely unwarranted and used as a means to counter the enormous spend on a player who really wasn’t needed. Sure, Real Madrid have Isco to replace Ozil as the first-choice No. 10, but despite how well the former Malaga player has adjusted to life at the Bernabeu, he hasn’t replaced the figure that Ozil was behind the scenes – an enormously popular figure with his teammates and obviously fans too. This is coupled with the fact that they’re both slightly different in their playing styles.
The issue for Bale here is that he hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s been caught up in a transfer storm that was only going to have a negative outcome. With Bale on board, Real Madrid could lose Ronaldo – though I don’t believe they will in the next year – or at the very least seriously wind him up; it’s not just a matter of Bale playing in a similar position, but what the Bale deal represents: transfer fee and wages.
If Bale’s fee been significantly lower and his arrival didn’t need to be offset by the sale of Ozil, he probably would have been far more openly welcomed into the camp by the senior players. Though let’s not forget that Bale hasn’t actually met up with his teammates yet and will join them this week for his first training session with the club. After that, we may get a better understanding as to how players like Sergio Ramos have reacted.
For now, Bale is something of an afterthought, though still holding an important place in the makeup of the issue that has brought about this backlash. Ramos was extremely close to Ozil and wore the German’s shirt under his own following some ‘unfair’ treatment from Jose Mourinho last season which resulted in Ozil being substituted during half time. It’s understandable, therefore, that as one of the captains in the team, Ramos is far more focused on the loss of an integral and valued player than the arrival of another.
Even at a club like Real Madrid, there can only be one top dog. With Barcelona, Neymar’s arrival has done little to challenge Lionel Messi and his position in the team. It’s about creating a balance no matter how many world-class players are in the ranks. But as for Bale, how much of an equilibrium will there be following the at times idiotic comparisons to Ronaldo? Despite what the Welshman has said, people will look at the coming season as something of a battle between the two. Ronaldo is better, he knows he’s better, but the last thing the club should have done is bring in someone who is likely to challenge his position. Players have been upset or angered before in football, but it doesn’t always point to a lack of respect.
The issue here is the lack of respect Ronaldo feels he’s received. He wants a higher pay packet, not just because of the money but because of what it represents. But as already mentioned, the real source of disrespect is Perez, not for the signing of Bale, but for the handling of the Ozil situation. He might not have foreseen the discontent among supporters and players, but he certainly didn’t have to tarnish the player’s name in an attempt to save face.
Has Ronaldo and the senior players at Real Madrid shown a lack of respect towards Gareth Bale?
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