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Bale Refused to Warm Up after Valverde Sub—Has the Welshman Hit a Breaking Point?

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Gareth’s actions can be understood, but can they be justified?

Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

It is clear that Gareth Bale is unhappy, but the nature of his actions are purely unprofessional. It is one thing to understand where the Welshman’s frustrations come from, but it is another to try and justify them. Arguably, David Beckham, a fellow Brit abroad, suffered a similar fate while in Spain: accused of cheating on his wife, constant critiques that his signing was for marketing purposes only, and in his final season completely exiled by Capello— not even allowed to train with the first team. David Beckham did not allow his ego to get the best of him, instead he trained hard and remained professional throughout. In fact, when questioned, most former teammates always point to Becks work ethic and professionalism as the two things that surprised them most about the player.

In contrast, it can be argued that Gareth Bale is allowing his ego to get the best of him. He is the highest paid player on the team and the most expensive signing in Real Madrid history. He has won 4 Champions League titles in the 5 full seasons he has spent with the club. He has an impressive 77 goals in 146 appearances. In fairness, he is right to have a chip on his shoulder. Ego is often what separates the truly great players. Though, when too inflated and too entitled, players lose respect — of the fan base, their teammates, and the coach. Gareth Bale, who feels letdown by his teammates after their comments about his Spanish and lifestyle, frustrated at his former coaches comments on his selfishness, the media for their constant negative agenda towards him, and his current coaches lack of faith, has reached a breaking point.

It’s understandable— the pressure of Madrid is one thing, but to supplement that with all the other nonsense Bale has had to deal with, that large load on his shoulders has clearly weighed heavy. The solution, would be to work hard, score goals, and reverse the narrative. “Alpha-Bale” as he has been named by the Managing Madrid community, is Gareth Bale in full form taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Alpha Bale can change all the negative headlines.

Instead, Gareth Bale has conducted himself in a very unprofessional manner. During Sunday’s match against Levante, Bale along with Valverde and Asensio were asked to warm up. Solari, surprisingly, selected Fede Valverde as the first substitute. Gareth, already frustrated that he didn’t start, was furious. Both Marca and AS reported, following images from Spanish TV, “Gol” and “Cuatro”, that Bale told Pintus he was going to get some water and then just sat on the bench, legs crossed. Marcelo, Keylor Navas, and Toni Kroos all told Bale to go back and warm up, but he refused. Even Pintus came by and asked him to warm up, Bale refused.

Marcelo asks Bale to go back and Warm Up, the Welshman refuses.
Image Courtesy of GOL and Marca - Spanish Television

Bale was sat on the bench for a full five minutes after cutting his warm up short. It was a clear moment of indiscipline. Solari, surprisingly, turned to Bale as the next substitute to replace Karim Benzema. The Welshman himself was even surprised.

Photo Courtesy of GOL and Marca — Spanish Television

Following his drama on the sidelines, Bale scored a penalty kick and then refused to celebrate with his teammates. Visibly angry, he flung the celebratory arms of Lucas Vazquez away. Solari publicly acknowledged it, “Bale played with anger, a hunger to eat up the whole field”.

The questions remains — has Gareth Bale taken it too far? Is his ego helping or harming him? Has he crossed the line into unprofessionalism? This is another dark moment in Bale’s Madrid career, a career with intense highs and shallow lows, can he reverse the narrative and stake his claim as Madrid’s best leading into the most pivotal week in the season? Gareth Bale has the potential and the quality to put things right, but must do so through hard work, not temper tantrums.