As far as European football is concerned, Gareth Bale has a simple choice. The 24-year-old can either stay at Tottenham, compete in this season’s Europa League and endure another turbulent attempt at Champions League qualification. Or, he can join a team that has won Europe’s elite competition nine times. Indeed, with Real Madrid, it really is that simple. With the world at his feet, Bale could make the switch to the Santiago Bernabéu this summer and ply his trade at a club that has reached the Champions League semi-finals on each of its last three attempts. And instead of scoring a personal-best 31 goals-a-season only to watch on as his team narrowly miss out on fourth place in the Premier League, the Welsh star could experience a realistic chance of winning the world’s greatest club competition – under Carlo Ancelotti, who has won it twice. Once again, it really is that simple.
As Tottenham’s talisman, Bale is joined by a wealth of Premier League stars. There is Eden Hazard at Chelsea, Robin van Persie at Manchester United and Luis Suárez at Liverpool. Names that could walk into almost any XI in the world. In fact, the list goes on. But will we remember them in 10 years’ time? Maybe Van Persie; for his title-winning form. Who else? Those we will never forget, however, are the players that moved abroad to change the landscape of global football, at the same time achieving worldwide recognition. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, and Ronaldinho. Even the Galacticos. Indeed, only a select band of players have ever immortalised themselves to the extent that they have become synonymous with the beautiful game – and most of them have done so at Real Madrid or Barcelona. So in the opportunity to move to Spain and become celebrated the world across, Bale has the chance to make history. Why waste it?
Ask any non-Spurs supporter who first comes to mind at the mention of Tottenham Hotspur and there is only ever one answer. At White Hart Lane, Bale runs things. But how long can the 24-year-old be expected to keep it up? Will the Welshman be a one-club man well into his 30s? Or will he stay for a couple of seasons before eventually giving in? As painful as it is for Liverpool fans to admit, one-club hero Steven Gerrard has given every ounce of his soul towards leading the Anfield outfit to glory but been greeted only with a frustrating career bereft of consistent success. The veteran has forever carried the burden of leading his boyhood team on one lonely pair of shoulders – and with a long list of career injuries replacing what should have been league titles. Yes, what the Liverpool captain has lost in trophies he has gained ten times over in loyalty, respect and support. But would that be enough for Bale? Not every footballer gets the opportunity to join Real Madrid – and it would be unthinkable to turn down if it meant the chance to share one’s workload and enjoy a greater freedom of expression. Responsibility is one thing. Ambition is another.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news