Gareth Bale signed off from his “dream” nine-year Real Madrid stint with an open letter to the club’s fans. Where will the 32-year-old end up next season?
Bale will leave the Bernabeu when his contract expires at the end of June, and signed off with a fifth Champions League winners’ medal following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Liverpool in Paris – although he played only seven minutes in the tournament this season.
The Welsh winger’s spell in the Spanish capital has often been a rollercoaster ride including high-profile fallings out with Zinedine Zidane, a redemption in the 2018 Champions League final featuring a spectacular overhead kick goal, and a year on loan at former club Tottenham Hotspur in 2021/22.
His relationship with the club’s fans deteriorated over what was often perceived as a work-shy mentality towards the end of his time in Spain, which was not helped when he was pictured alongside a fan’s ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid’ flag in November 2019 after helping his country qualify for Euro 2020.
Despite that, he was given a rapturous applause as he made his final public appearance as a Real player during their Champions League homecoming on Sunday evening, and responded with an open letter to the club’s fans on social media on Wednesday.
He wrote on Twitter: “I write this message to say thank you to all my team mates, past and present, my managers, the backroom staff and to the fans that supported me.
“I arrived here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to realise my dream of playing for Real Madrid. To wear the pristine white kit, to wear the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win titles and to be part of what it’s so famous for, to win the Champions League.
“I can now look back, reflect and say with honesty that this dream became a reality and much, much more. To be a part of this club’s history and to achieve what we achieved while I was a Real Madrid player, has been an incredible experience and one I will never forget.
“I also want to thank President Florentino Perez, Jose Angel Sanchez, and the board for giving me the opportunity to play for this club. Together we were able to create some moments that will live forever in the history of this club and football.
“It has been an honour. Thank you! HALA MADRID!”
Where next for Bale?
Sky Sports’ Ron Walker:
“There’s several options for Gareth Bale this summer, although none has become concrete yet as the decorated player takes the time he has earned to consider his next, and perhaps final, move as a player.
“His boyhood club, Cardiff, have been linked with a deal for several weeks. Although a transfer from the Champions League winners to a mid-table Championship side would seem farfetched, Bale has been weighing up the prospect of joining the Bluebirds, or local rivals Swansea, since the turn of the year.
“Cardiff do already have form after luring fellow fan Craig Bellamy to south Wales in 2012 when he was 33, the same age Bale will turn in July.
“The MLS has also been mooted as a potential destination to make Bale one of the latest European heavyweights to end their careers Stateside, and DC United – where Wayne Rooney plied his trade for two years – have reportedly already been in talks.
“Then there’s the outcome all Wales fans will dread – that he hangs up his boots entirely. Sky Sports also reported on this possible outcome in January but should Bale lead his country to the World Cup finals, their first since 1958, when they face Scotland or Ukraine on Monday then it would be a major shock for their talisman to abandon what would feel like a job half-done.”
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