When we first heard Gareth Bale could be leaving Real Madrid for Jiangsu Suning FC, I’m sure many seriously questioned why – at just 30 years old – he was even considering this huge step down.
Then we learned he’d potentially be receiving a £1.1million per week for the pleasure and realised that’s exactly why he was considering it. Of course he was. Money talks and when it comes to football, everything else walks. But even on what we might call the Arnautović financial Richter scale, this looked like an especially greedy, grubby, unnecessary and undignified trolley dash around the far east money supermarket, and it’s one that he had no need to make.
Perhaps he planned to give it all away to good causes, as he certainly has no need of it himself. If so, this was not proffered as a motive and you’d think it might have been in order to offset the accusations of money-hoovering greed.
The move has now been blocked by the Real Madrid board because the fee is too low and he looks destined to stay in Spain for another season as the China transfer window closes on July 31. Apparently, no other club wants to – or can pay – a big fee and his big wages. Let’s be clear, in blocking this deal, Madrid have done him an absolutely massive favour and saved him from making a terrible move.
For a player who was a thrilling force of nature that brought even the least excitable fans to their feet with outrageous pace, physicality and skill, it would have been almost tragic for him to be shackled to a choice only motivated by sulphurous Mammon.
What on earth was he thinking? Bale has always seemed like a nice fella. He never really struck any of us as a greed-monger for whom a bigger number is always better, no matter how big. But maybe we got it wrong. We obviously did. The million-per-week deal is the sort of lucre lustfully craved by someone who wants to acquire money purely for its own sake in a real world game of Monopoly. But life isn’t a board game and the one with the most money doesn’t win. And those peddling the idea of massive wealth equating to massive happiness are simply pushing a falsehood. And yet he fell for the ‘greed is good’ lie all the same.
Obviously we do not know the man, but it was hard to see him in this cash-hungry light; and yet the deal was on the verge of happening – he would have gone to China for the money – so we must reassess him. In interviews, top knot notwithstanding, he seems to be modest, a little shy and not some sort of horrendous egotistical potentate who most desires to sit atop the biggest pile of gold in order to justify his existence. But we must have been wrong.
He must have known that, having long been at the epicentre of the modern game, he would have been at the fringes in China, playing out his days to the apathy of the audience that he once wowed. Clearly that didn’t matter to him, or not as much as the money mattered, we are forced to assume. It feels mercenary, tragic and even a little pathetic that it had come to this for a man who apparently doesn’t even like Chinese food.
Sadly only sheer wanton greed can explain it. His net worth is already being estimated at approx £100million. How much more money does he need? To say he doesn’t need any more is to massively state the obvious.
The Mirror tried to make sense of this senselessness.
‘Gareth Bale is set to leave his wife and three kids 5,700 miles away in Wales – to earn £1million a week in China. Gareth – who wed school sweetheart Emma last month – will make the sacrifice to secure their financial future as the world’s best-paid player.’
‘Secure their financial future’?! The existing £100million has obviously made his financial future secure in any meaningful use of the word, not to mention the existing three-year deal at Real which, even if he does not play, will earn him another shedload. It is as though the paper was also struggling to make any logic out of it, so introduced the bogus notion of financial security and proffered it as an excuse to reason the madness away.
The compound interest on a hundred million would deliver more money than you could spend every single year, without even touching the capital. After all, we know from our experience of life that, in the words of Jim Morrison, the future is uncertain and the end is always near. £100million does not insulate any of us from that truth.
Anyway, it’s all off and with his manager not wanting him around, he now seems set to sit it out and rake in the cash, variously estimated, but somewhere in the £2.5million per month mark.
There is a really obvious solution to this situation, but only if Bale can overcome his previously hidden, most egregiously greedy, urges. It is this: accept a contract on far lower wages then go and play football. This would bring in a lot of clubs and Madrid would surely get the fee they want.
But more specifically, Gareth, how about going back to Southampton, the club that gave you the opportunity to be where you are now? I’m sure they’d be interested. Their top wage is 80 grand a week, over four million a year. Perhaps they could squeeze that out for you?
It’s not like you’d have to live the life of a pauper. You’d keep getting ever more fantastically rich, just at a slower rate. You’d be at a club that wants you, that would be pleased to welcome you, that would be near your beloved Wales and your four million quid house. Gareth mate, you wouldn’t even have to eat Chinese food with chopsticks. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Okay, it’s much less than you’re on now, but that amount is a financial bubo on the body of football: a symptom of the disease that is killing the game’s soul as well as its finances. It is a death you are complicit in, so why not try to make amends? Why not play for love as well as a stinking huge amount of money? Or is the roar of wonga now so loud that it is drowning out every other voice?
Going to China just can’t have been what he really wanted on a football basis. Playing to an average of 32,000 people in a 61,000 capacity stadium alongside Alex Teixeira may have held some joys, but for an elite player, this was not a life on football’s lighted stage.
He needs to let go of the notion that maximising income at all costs is the be all and end all of life, when he’s already so phenomenally rich. Once he’s let the money lust subside, he can still enjoy a few years at, or near, the top of the game and still add about 15 million quid to his account.
That should be plenty even for those who fellate the holy moolah as if it were a revelator.