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Ronaldo's wind-up: Why Bale must quit Real Madrid for England after Kiev antics

COMMENT: For Gareth Bale, surely it dropped on Saturday night. That penny. At the final whistle. Surely it became all too clear for the Welshman - he needs to get out of Real Madrid.

This should be his final. The Bale final. A half-hour to make history. To score twice. To hit the greatest goal ever seen in a Champions League final. Today in Madrid, the press should be full of it. It should be all about Bale. But it's not. He wasn't going to let another steal his spotlight.

From Cristiano Ronaldo, it was calculated. Pre-planned. If he couldn't grab the spotlight from deeds on the pitch - he was going to engineer something off it. And he did.

It was no coincidence Ronaldo dropped his 'bombshell' on a reporter from the English language media. He knew we'd be all over it. Say it to a Spanish journalist and it'd be washed away in the hype of Bale and the three-peat - or La Decimotercera. But despite his teammate's heroics, Ronaldo made sure he was the headliner.

"It was very nice to be at Real Madrid," he declared, in perfect English, at the final whistle, "In the coming days I will give a response to the fans, who have always been at my side."

And bang! That was it. Bale was an afterthought. He'd barely removed his boots, but the post-match story had moved on. Now it was about Ronaldo again.

What did he mean? Why did he say it? Rather than seeking a reaction on Bale's performance, these questions were put to Real identities. Skipper Sergio Ramos demanded "clarity". President Florentino Perez insisted Ronaldo "had a contract". Zinedine Zidane, the coach, simply declared "Ronaldo must stay". Kiev didn't happen without Bale. Two goals. Two matching winning goals. Yet, no matter his influence, he was never going to upstage Ronaldo.

"Who was the top scorer once again?" Ronaldo continued, reminding us all of the 15 goals he'd scored en route to the final. "The Champions League should change and be called the CR7 Champions League.

"I have won five and I am the goalscorer again, so I cannot be sad."

Ronaldo. Ronaldo. Bloody Ronaldo. What chance Bale? What chance the Welshman of actually stealing away some of the attention from his teammate? What chance? No chance. Not when it comes so naturally for Ronaldo to manipulate us all into making him the biggest story time and again.

Even Zidane couldn't bring himself to hand the baton to Bale, insisting the Welshman's wonder goal was simply "different' to his effort at Hampden Park.

"It is not the same thing but it is just the latest thing we have witnessed," declared the Frenchman, before - begrudgingly - adding, "It was magnificent."

Zidane isn't one for false modesty and will fight his corner when needed. Witness his remarks last week about those who question his tactical nous: "I'm not the best coach tactically, you do not have to say it because I've said it, but I have something else. The vision and the passion I have and that is worth much more."

When it comes to legacy. His place in the game's history. Like Ronaldo, Zidane is not going to give an inch. For someone like Bale, you'll have to take it from them - and even then they're unlikely to acknowledge it.

For the fair minded, this had to be his night. The cameo. Perhaps the greatest cameo off the bench in a final (Lars Ricken anyone?). A performance to reset a reputation. To force us all to reconsider Bale and where he stands in today's game. That's what Real - as a club - should've promoted last night. From Zidane, to Ramos and Florentino, they all should have been highlighting the game-changing ways of the Welshman.

Instead, significantly, when it came to the trophy presentation, we had to look closely for the matchwinner. Where was he? Where was Bale? The two-goal hero was not at the front. No teammate grabbed him and pushed him into the front row of players. Oh no. Bale was at the back, the last row. With the support staff. He wasn't even passed the trophy after Ramos had lifted it.

This is why he needs to get out. Even on a night like Saturday. A pinnacle in the man's career. He was pushed aside. It's still about Ronaldo. It always has been and always will be. No matter what Bale does, the Portuguese - with the assistance of those inside and outside the club - will forever be granted top billing.

He won't get that treatment in England. Take up the offer from Jose Mourinho and become the main man at Manchester United. Spearhead the rebuild at Roman Abramovich's Chelsea. Or make a celebrated return to Tottenham and lead them into a golden era. In all cases. With all options. Bale would be it. He'd play second fiddle to no-one. At 29 and at his peak, Bale would get himself out from under Ronaldo's shadow. And lifted by the global influence of the local English media he would become a world-wide force. A phenomenon as the Spanish say.

Bale turns 29 in July. It really is now or never. The Welshman needs to get on his bike and get himself back to England. The penny must have dropped last night. No matter what he does for that club, they're never going to treat him like they do their No7.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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