Having the tag of ‘world’s most expensive player’ carries a significant weight of expectation, as Gareth Bale is finding out in Madrid.
The former Tottenham star has been subjected to a tough time by the Spanish press and Real Madrid’s fanbase in recent weeks and months, as the European champions struggle.
Marca in particular have singled out the Wales international for criticism, with accusations that Bale is too selfish while in possession and not a team player.
Following an example where the flying winger shot rather than passed in a La Liga game last year, a section of the Santiago Bernabeu faithful booed to show their displeasure at Bale’s decision-making.
This has been repeated on occasion throughout the campaign, with the ex-Spurs hero especially singled out by the home crowd in Madrid’s recent home defeat to Schalke in the Champions League.
With Marca continuing to add to the negative furore surrounding Bale, a poll of their readers recently revealed that the majority wanted to see the Welshman dropped from Carlo Ancelotti’s first team.
As these problems continue, transfer rumours linking Bale with a Premier League return this summer have started to gather pace, with Manchester United in particular mentioned as a significant suitor.
The Old Trafford outfit are believed to have tried to sign the Wales international from Spurs before he joined Madrid, but Bale opted for the Spanish capital instead.
The prospect of having Bale in the red of United will surely have Red Devils fans salivating, but the Old Trafford faithful should not get too excited just yet.
Quite frankly, the chances of Bale leaving Madrid in the summer are slim.
The Welshman has received the support of Ancelotti, but more importantly president Florentino Perez has publicly praised Bale and backed him during the tough times that the player is undergoing.
Although this may not change the fans’ perspective of the world-record transfer holder, it ties Bale’s cause to that of Perez.
Selling the Welshman now would see the Real Madrid president to admit that he made a mistake in splurging such an astronomical figure on the former Tottenham star.
In the highly political environment of Spanish football, this would surely weaken Perez’s position and cast doubt over his leadership of the club.
As such, if Madrid’s woes continue and the prospect of a campaign without silverware continues, others will have their heads on the chopping board before Bale.
Expect Ancelotti to leave the Bernabeu before Bale does, even if the Welshman’s popularity continues to plummet.
That said, there is every chance that Bale can still win over his doubters.
Perez was quick to remind the Madridistas of the Welshman’s goals in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals last season, while Bale ended a goal drought on Sunday with both strikes in a 2-0 victory over Levante.
Bale’s situation is certainly less than ideal at Madrid currently but it is by no means untenable.
With Perez firmly in his corner, don’t expect the former Spurs man to be playing for United or anyone other than Real anytime soon.