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Que bien, Gareth! Why Real Madrid ace Bale deserves better from local media

COMMENT: So you're still going to pull him apart? Even now? Even when Gareth Bale is trying his best with his Spanish. To be involved. The media still want to condemn him?

Yes, it was a little cringe worthy. Yes, Bale clearly isn't the life of the party. But thatReal Madrid promo with five of his teammates did show Bale happy to mix. And - contrary to the headlines in England and Spain - he did mix by communicating in Spanish.

The headlines screamed otherwise, but watch the entire video below and you see Bale answering both his captain, Sergio Ramos, and his locker room neighbour Marcelo in the local lingo. And the promo also showed Casemiro laughing off his struggles with switching from Portuguese to Spanish - along with Marcelo having to 'go slowly' when translating his thoughts. So who's foolin' who here?

As we say, Bale's never going to be the life of the party. Rafael van der Vaart, the former Real midfielder who played with Bale at Tottenham, stated just recently: "He is a very calm player, he wants to be alone, he does not have much contact with his teammates."

But there's a difference between being an introvert and someone who simply goes out of his way to ignore others. And that clearly isn't Bale - no matter how they portray him in the Madrid media.

Indeed when it comes to Bale, there's a lot of projection going on from the local press. Much wishful thinking. Particularly with Zinedine Zidane's return.

Apparently, Zizou wants nothing to do with Bale. Feels he's a drag on morale inside the locker room. And can't wait to see him sold this summer. Or so they say...

For in the Frenchman's first game back, it was the Welshman he started with. And it was the Welshman who scored to hand his coach a triumphant return against Celta Vigo.

As we've stated previously here, Zidane rates Bale. He rates him highly. And for all the speculation swirling around the coach's return, the circuit breaker was always going to be the Thibaut Courtois v Keylor Navas debate, not whether Bale starts.

“Our relationship was good," Bale said of the Frenchman earlier this season. "I wouldn't say we were best mates, it was just a normal professional relationship."

And that's just it. Zidane is a collector of players. He loves a big squad. It's why Mateo Kovacic only quit last summer for Chelsea. The Croatian twice talked out of leaving by Zidane - despite broken promises about a regular game. When the Frenchman departed, there was no-one with that charisma to convince Kovacic to hang around another 12 months.

Zidane likes to have as much quality available to him as possible. And regarding Bale, he knows he has a world top 5 player on his hands. He may not always play him. And Bale will no doubt feel slighted. But there's next to no chance of Zidane going to Florentino Perez, the Real president, and demanding his sale. That's just not his style of management.

We've had right go at Jonathan Barnett, Bale's agent, in this column recently. But he's correct when he says, "I assure you, Gareth does not read the newspapers. The press is wrong to behave like this, it incites the fans".

But as we've also stated before, Bale can help himself by communicating in Spanish. And you hope, after this video promotion we'll see more of it.

It must be remembered Bale's former teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo, refused to speak to local media for long periods. It wasn't out of spite. Or Ronaldo being aloof. It was the Portuguese being self-conscious about his Spanish. He didn't want to give interviews until he was sure of what he was saying.

Now it's no stretch to say Bale and the Juventus striker are two very different personalities. And it's also no stretch to suggest the Madrid media would be well aware of this. Yet, they've refused to afford Bale the same leniency as Ronaldo - despite the No11's place in the club's history. Lisbon, anyone? Kiev...?

"Gareth is very strong. He is a person of very strong will and does not care what the press says," insists Barnett. "Mockery is not something that bothers him."

Fair enough. And as always, Bale will have the last laugh by producing for Zidane on the pitch. But he can make life easier by being available to the local fans - in the local language.

But he's getting there. Last week's video is proof of that. Don't condemn Bale when he's clearly making the effort to get his Spanish right.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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