Gareth Bale arrived at Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 as a breathtaking talent, a world-record signing, and a true Galactico.
The years following his gargantuan transfer to the Santiago Bernebeu would see the Welshman rise to the very top alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, forming a terrifyingly electric attack that romped to four Champions League crowns in five years.
His pace, creativity, and goals produced a love affair between Bale and the Real faithful.
However, in recent times the atmosphere surrounding Bale’s status as a Real Madrid player has been tense and rocky. The Welshman saw more of the bench than the grass during the 2019/20 season, following a falling out with Zinedine Zidane.
Since then, he’s spent the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Tottenham – a move that seemingly spelled the long-awaited confirmation that his Los Blancos career was dead in the water. However, over the course of last season, Bale showed glimpses of his old, unplayable self and that he still has something to offer Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema’s 30 goals and nine assists last term were the only thing that saved a direly lacklustre Real attack. Wingers Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard, Rodrygo, and Vinicius Jr managed a combined 19 goals in 151 appearances across all competitions, while back-up frontman Mariano Diaz notched just the one strike in 22 games – nothing short of appalling numbers.
While Los Blancos still managed to finish second in La Liga, the fantastic Benzema was flanked by regularly dim wingers, from whom the side invariably needed more.
Bale, on the other hand, came to form whenever given the opportunity during his second spell with Spurs. The winger managed massively prolific streaks when given game time, eventually registering 16 strikes in 34 appearances – 11 of which came in just 20 Premier League outings, equating to a goal every 84 minutes.
He undeniably showed that he certainly hasn’t lost the knack of scoring goals, while also demonstrating his unplayable nature on more than one occasion – notably making a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Sheffield United late on in the campaign look like the easiest thing in the world.
The 32-year old has also visibly added to his game since those consistently electric days at Real. Bale was inevitably Wales’ main man heading into Euro 2020, although proved to be much more than just a source for goals.
He put in masterfully creative and game-dictating showings that inspired the Welsh, eventually leading them to the last 16. As well as intelligent bursts in behind and the willingness to directly run at his opposition, Bale showed his ability to find space perfectly and create opportunities out of nothing.
Of course, Los Blancos are pretty well covered for creative midfielders but those qualities he has shown can undoubtedly add an element of composure, effectiveness, and clinical quality in the final third.
Let’s also not forget that Bale will likely get the chance to impress at Real Madrid this campaign. Following Zidane’s departure during the summer, Carlo Ancelotti has taken the reins – the man that brought Bale to the Santiago Bernebeu eight years ago and saw him thrive for the two years he coached the Welshman.
It looked as though the 32-year old’s career was coming to an end when he was swapping shin pads for golf clubs, but he’s done more than enough to prove he’s still got plenty to offer a side competing for the very top.