Gareth Bale’s world record transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid has ignited debate in the Cayman Islands, especially from fans of both clubs.
The 24-year-old Welshman finally became the world’s most expensive footballer after protracted negotiations that lasted all summer by signing a golden deal worth $250 million.
Real Madrid paid a $120 million transfer fee and Bale will earn around $132 million over the next six years, or about $400,000 per week. There are mind-boggling payments for sponsorship deals on top of that.
Although behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who is the world’s best-paid player, pocketing $40 million last year from wages, bonuses, sponsorships and endorsements, if Bale settles quickly and establishes himself, he could soon be challenging for highest paid.
Bale’s new teammate Cristiano Ronaldo earned $36 million last year and unsettled Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was the Premier League’s top earner at $22 million.
Bale was paraded at Real’s 85,000-seat Bernabeu stadium on Monday.
Osbourne Bodden, the Cayman Islands’ minister of health and sports, is a big Spurs fan. Speculation is that Bale’s fee will put enormous pressure on him.
Bodden said: “I think that price tag would give anyone pressure.
“But he’s a pretty mature young man and I expect him to do well, injury permitting. He’s probably going to fill Angel di Maria’s role and he will fit in just fine.
“Real Madrid has always been my Spanish team and they will be fearsome. No defense, including Barcelona’s, will enjoy Bale on the left plus Ronaldo on the right coming at them. These are guys who are lethal with both feet and head. It’s going to be exciting. La Liga just got hotter.”
Nevertheless, Bodden is resigned to Spurs having to adjust without Bale, who scored 31 times in all competitions for the north Londoners last season. They lost 1-0 to arch rivals Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.
“Spurs will suffer without him for a bit, but we have made some good acquisitions that I watched against Arsenal,” Bodden said.
“I think when they soon gel, with the likes of Sandro and Scott Parker still there, we will be a force. We need to sell Emmanuel Adebayor, he is too inconsistent.”
Local football coach Carlos Vargas has been a Real Madrid fan since 1998. “That was when they won the Champions League against Juventus with a goal by Pedrag Mijatovic,” Vargas said. “They were not the favorites that day, I didn’t like Juventus so I wanted them to win and from that day I was hooked.
“I became a Madridista and have been ever since.”
Yet Vargas is not impressed with Bale’s fee, nor even him joining the other Galaticos.
“I’m not that excited, he’s not worth it and the team doesn’t need him,” Vargas said. ”I think Carlos Ancelotti (Real’s manager) will move Ronaldo inside as a center forward. Cristiano can play on either wing so we’ll see what Ancelloti does.”
There is speculation that there may be a clash of egos because Ronaldo may not be No. 1 anymore.
“Ronaldo is still No. 1 at Madrid. He’s proven that,” said Vargas. “He is still the highest earner. The issue is what it will do to other players like di Maria who might get his panties up in a bunch but he’ll probably use that to get a good bump in his contract.”
Vargas does not think Bale is worth his price tag. “Just like everything else, all the hype was created by the British media and Daniel Levy (Tottenham director) is a hell of a negotiator. Bale will never play in a World Cup finals because Wales are not good enough to get there.
“I really don’t think he’s that great a player to make that difference to a team like Madrid. They will be better because of Ancelotti and Ronaldo proving again that he’s there.”
Ronaldo was unsettled recently and there was even talk of him returning to Manchester United, but Vargas does not see him leaving in the near future.
“It’s a World Cup year,” Vargas said. “Cristiano has nothing to be jealous about. The one who has the most to lose is Florentino Perez, the Real president. He might have just bought the most expensive flop in the history of football.”