Deadline day. Summer transfer Window. 2013. The day Arsene Wenger finally splashed the cash and brought Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid to Arsenal for a sizable amount. But the news that dominated the headlines the next morning was the other bit of transfer news, again involving Real Madrid and North London.
The long transfer saga involving Gareth Bale and Real Madrid had finally come to an end with a deal finally being agreed for a meagre 100 million euros. The Gareth Bale- Real Madrid affair had been the top story for quite sometime, will he go or will he stay? Comparisons can be drawn with Cesc Fabregas's move to Barcelona as the transfer rumours continued the whole summer and became quite tedious towards the end, with the negotiations becoming quite messy. Everyone knew Madrid are a rich and ambitious club but no one expected them to shell out 100 million for the Welshman.
Being an Arsenal fan, I was never too fond of Bale for obvious reasons, and thought that he wasn't worth even half of what Tottenham were receiving, and wasn't the only one with this opinion. Despite a goal on his debut, Bale had a rocky start to life in Madrid with constant injury problems and a lack of fitness. His first El Clasico, a big stage to show the world that he was worth the money paid for him, ended poorly with him having no impact on the game and was subbed at the hour mark. He seemed very out of place and almost too eager to impress.
If he hadn't moved for such a sizable amount, things would have been different, but with the 100 million price tag everyone expected him to score and perform in each and every game. He wasn't given any time to settle. It wasn't only the Spanish media keeping a close watch on him, the English media too kept him under close scrutiny as they still considered him their own. Winning over the Real Madrid fans isn't an easy job, even the likes of Ronaldo hadn’t fully won them over until recently, what chance did Bale have then? I personally didn't think Bale was up to the job and would buckle under the expectations and pressure and would soon make a quick return back to the Premier League. Boy was I wrong?
His performances soon started to improve and he started to get among the goals and started settling into the team. But a slight slump in form followed and his place was taken by the highly impressive Jese and Bale's appearances were restricted to the bench. But a long term injury to Jese put Bale back in the fray, who wasn't going to throw away this chance. The goals started to flow again and we were soon seeing shades of the Gareth Bale we knew all too well from last season. He became an integral part of the team and his pace and agility became a vital asset to the team's counter attacking style.
The goal that made people sit up and realize what he was all about showed all the abilites he had displayed in the Premier League; fast , strong and quick with his feet. Scoring a wonder goal against Barcelona in the final five minutes of the Copa Del Rey Final, it doesn't get much better than that. The speed and strength shown to beat Bartra was truly spectacular, and him charging down the left wing towards Barcelona’s goal was almost like a bull charging towards the red flag being waved at him.
With Ronaldo out injured, it was up to Bale to take up the responsibility, and he sure did so, and with some style too. He had come a long way from that Clasico in the Camp Nou, and that night in the Mestalla re defined Gareth Bale forever.
Bale's passion and love for Real Madrid is what stands out. Every time he goes out to play, you can see the desire, the willpower in his eyes. He almost seems in awe of all the players he plays along with and wearing that famous white jersey means a lot to him. He seems overwhelmed by Real Madrid and I think sometimes he pinches himself to make sure that he is plying his trade at probably the biggest club on the planet His performances and passion have been noticed by the fans, and his fan base increases by the day. I am certainly a Gareth Bale fan now. The move to Madrid has taken him from the status of wonder kid to superstar.
His Champions League final goal was scrappy to say the least, but he won't score a more important goal in his career. The joy and ecstasy on his face was more than visible; scoring the winning goal in the Champions League final for the club you supported as a child is the stuff of dreams. Marcelo and Ronaldo's goals added to the margin, but in a Champions League final such things don't matter. If you opened the BBC sports page, it would seem that Gareth Bale had won the Champions League, not Real Madrid. Gareth Bale is still a young child from Wales living the dream with the club closest to his heart.