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Football
Gareth Bale with his trademark heart celebration scoring on debut for Real Madrid vs Villareal
Gareth Bale, with his trademark heart celebration, after scoring on debut for Real Madrid against Villareal.

How Gareth Bale Became The Most Expensive Footballer In The World

Gareth Bale became the world’s most expensive football player when Spanish giants Real Madrid spent a massive £85.3 million on the Welsh wizard.  It was an astonishing story for British football and has provided football with one of the most drastic examples of how evolution can change a player’s career.

After beginning his career at left back, his manager Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur noticed that Bale’s blinding pace and acceleration might be better suited in attack higher up the pitch rather than as an full back with pace as an added bonus. The switch to left midfield came in early 2010 and the improved performances were almost instantaneous.

After helping Spurs reach the UEFA Champions League at the end of the season, Bale announced himself to the world with two sensational performances against the then European champions Inter Milan, scoring a second half hat-trick in the first game before turning in another man of the match performance in the return leg at White Hart Lane.

Read More: The History of the European Championships

In both games, the perceived best right back in the world Maicon, looked as if he was running through treacle trying to catch up with the terrifying speed of the Welshman.  These sorts of match winning performances continued throughout the rest of the season and resulted in Bale winning the Premiership’s Player of the Year award at just the tender age of 22.

The 2012-13 was the year Bale became a tour-de-force in the Premiership after moving into a more central position. He scored a remarkable 21 goals from midfield – the same as his overall total in his previous five seasons – and singlehandedly earned Spurs a staggering 30 points over the course of the season. This magnificent season earned Bale every single award possible at the end of the year meaning he became just the third Premiership player to win the Player of the Year award twice.

This ability to change the course of games and win matches was the key reason for Real Madrid’s determined approach to bring the Welshman to Spain. Thanks to their owner, Florentino Perez’s huge cash reserves and Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy’s absolute refusal to let Bale leave, the price drove up to record levels and come the end of August, Bale became the most expensive footballer in history and it’s not hard to see why Madrid want him.

Bale’s combination of speed, strength and dribbling ability means he can turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye. His long range shooting and free kick expertise means he can score from out of nothing but his new found goal scoring abilities in the penalty area make him the complete player. Add to that his huge marketing value through shirt sales and his ‘heart shaped’ celebration branding, some experts are predicting Bale could be the next David Beckham in terms of earning power. 

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If he can resist the intense pressure that the Spanish press in particular will subject him to, Bale could become the best footballer in the world in five years’ time. This depends on how quickly he settles in his new home, whether injuries will hamper his progress and whether he can effectively combine with Cristiano Ronaldo who is still top dog at Madrid.

No matter what the result, Bale will have the eyes of the world fixed on him for the next year at least because no matter how he performs, he is the most expensive footballer in the world and that carries certain weight in football.

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