Gareth Bale to Real Madrid: Ignore the record transfer fee, Cristiano Ronaldo remains the world's best player

Welshman pays homage to new team-mate and will defer to him over taking free-kicks

Madrid

Gareth Bale finally arrived at Real Madrid yesterday and declared that the man whose world transfer record he had broken was “still the boss”.

Cristiano Ronaldo now finds Bale on his shoulder in Real Madrid’s pay structure and ahead of him in terms of the money paid to bring him to the club. But Bale called his new team-mate “the best player in the world”.

“He is one of the major reasons why I have signed,” said Bale. “He was a massive factor in joining and, hopefully, we can win trophies together.”

Asked if he had come to “help” Ronaldo, Bale said: “He doesn’t need my help. He is already at the top and I am looking forward to playing alongside him and learning from him.”

In terms of player presentations Ronaldo will have seen how Bale’s “opening ceremony” at the Bernabeu drew a smaller crowd than the 80,000 that turned up for his in 2009. But he will also have noticed how Bale has been accepted instantly by Real supporters, who sang his name as he did a lap of the stadium kicking footballs into a crowd of around 35,000. “I was  nervous,” he admitted, “I think you could see that with my first couple of  attempts at keeping the ball up.”

When asked what will happen when Madrid get their first free-kick on the edge of the area and he and Ronaldo are left standing over the ball, he said: “I will have to ask him.”

It was deference all the way, and not just to Ronaldo but to Real’s past  glories. Bale admitted his first memory of the club was watching Zinedine Zidane score the winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final. “I was just about old enough to be watching those big games. I have always  followed Spanish football,” he said describing Real as “the world’s greatest club”.

Zidane publicly pushed Madrid’s pursuit of Bale but the player also  suggested other Real players had played their part. “I have kept in touch with Luka [Modric],” he said, denying that Ryan Giggs had tried to convince him to move to Manchester United.

Bale said he was made aware that the deal had finally been closed on Sunday and thanked the Real president, Florentino Perez, for “making his dream come true.”

Perez had talked about the efforts Bale had made to make the transfer happen. The two sides seemed to have been working closely together since the end of June when Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett met with Madrid’s director general, Jose Angel Sanchez, to thrash out what club sources have always referred to as a “plan of action”.

That involved Bale playing only one game for Spurs in pre-season, meaning he joins his new club lacking in match fitness. Things might have been different had it not been for the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, making sure Real had to fight for the right to take another of his players after the sale of Modric last year.

Bale admitted having been frustrated by Levy’s delay in releasing him. “It’s been a difficult time,” he said. “Everyone knows that he [Levy] is a hard businessman. He wanted to do well for Tottenham and he has  improved their squad.

“It is not ideal that I have not had a lot of game time. But I am hoping to be involved against Villarreal.”

His Real debut will come on 14 September away from home at El Madrigal and he will then make his first home appearance against Getafe in a Madrid derby. Today he joins up with Wales and will not report for his first day of training with his new team-mates until a week next Wednesday.

There was more love for Andre Villas-Boas than for Levy. The Portuguese coach had built his Spurs team around Bale last season and, when asked about the coach he leaves behind at Tottenham, the player said: “He was a massive influence on me; he helped me a lot last year and it was difficult to leave Spurs. I hope he will take them into the Champions League.”

Bale’s focus is now on helping Real Madrid win their 10th European Cup. Having gone 11 years without reaching a final and failing to get past the last 16 for five seasons before Jose Mourinho turned up in 2010, there is lost ground to be made up.

He will now be part of a team that on paper, and despite the sale of Mesut  Özil , looks to be the favourite in this year’s competition.

However, Bale naively seemed to think he would now have to fight his way into the team. “Every player here is world-class. I know that I can’t just come in and walk straight into the starting eleven. But there is a lot more to come from me,” he said.

It seems unthinkable that Bale will find himself anywhere other than in the starting line-up after Real’s astronomical outlay. Perez warned: “This is a club with a history full of legendary players playing with sacrifice and bravery, talent and respect. Our players need to be conscious of that and should offer all those things to the supporters.”

He will also be hoping to sell plenty of Bale shirts – the €96 (£82) No 11s were selling steadily yesterday.

The Real deal? Other Brits at the Bernabeu

* Five British players featured for Real Madrid before the First World War, mainly a legacy of their second longest-serving manager Arthur Johnson, who first arrived as a striker in 1902. In the modern era, another five have worn the famous all-white kit.

Laurie Cunningham (1979-84)

Joined from West Bromwich Albion for £950,000 in 1979, winning a league and cup double in his first season and losing against Liverpool in a European Cup final.

Steve McManaman (1999-2003)

Signed from Liverpool on a free transfer, McManaman helped the club to two Champions League titles – the first Englishman to win the competition with a foreign club.

David Beckham (2003-07)

Signed from Manchester United for £33m, Beckham won the La Liga title and the Spanish Super Cup in a five-year stay.

Jonathan Woodgate (2004-07)

A surprise signing from Newcastle for £13.4m, the England defender scored an own goal and was sent off on his debut and spent most of his time on the treatment table.

Michael Owen (2004-05)

Forward whose spell in the Spanish capital was short-lived but he still managed a return of 13 goals from just 20 starts in La Liga.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape