Now that Real Madrid has nabbed Gareth Bale for an unconfirmed world record fee, recession-hit Spain wants to see if the 24-year-old Welshman earns his money on the field.
The towering price risks sowing discord in the Real Madrid dressing room, and there is no guarantee Bale will live up to expectations, the Spanish press warned Monday as the player was presented in the Bernabeu.
British papers say Real Madrid paid Tottenham £101mn for the Welshman. But Spain’s press, quoting Real Madrid sources, say the price tag was “only” £91 mn.
The price difference is crucial. At £91 mn, Bale’s transfer fee would be less than the then record £94mn Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, whose contract must be re-negotiated before it runs out in two years.
At the time, Ronaldo had been awarded FIFA’s Balon d’Or for player of the year and had won a Champions League and three English league titles.
If the price for Bale is £101mn, or more, it would be the highest price ever paid for a player.
Noting that Bale had only played 11 Champions League matches, the paper said Bale would earn a net £11mn a year under his contract.
“In the final days the club managed to keep the contract secret, convinced that if the team got to know if it, it would provoke a wave of pay-rise requests,” El Pais said.
Bale will be the 13th Briton to have played for Real Madrid, said Barcelona-based La Vanguardia.
“Of the last four, only David Beckham lived up to expectations, and that was a very profitable signing though more on the commercial side than the sporting side,” it warned.
Even if the price is £91mn, that would mean Florentino Perez had now spent £170mn on five signings in the summer transfer window, it said.
“His (Florentino’s) tactic is to pay the maximum possible. Anyone could do it,” said sports columnist Roberto Palomar. “If things go badly for Bale on the field “they will whistle him just as they are now whistling (Karim) Benzema.”