MADRID, Spain, September 3 – Gareth Bale insists he will not be overcome by the pressure of his huge price tag after being officially unveiled as a Real Madrid player in front of 20,000 fans on Monday.
Bale’s protracted transfer from Tottenham Hotspur was finally completed on Sunday evening, with contrasting reports over whether he had become the most expensive player in the history of the game.
English media reported Bale’s transfer had broken the record Real paid for Cristiano Ronaldo four years ago at 101 million euros ($133.5 million, £86 million), while in Spain reports citing Real Madrid sources said the deal was concluded for 91 million euros, three million less than the sum paid for Ronaldo.
Bale refused to clarify the situation, saying he was more focused on living up to the standards he sets himself on the pitch.
“I wanted to come here even if it was for a penny,” he told a packed press conference.
“I don’t think any player really knows their price tag. It is something between the two clubs and not really my place to say.
“The pressure is just as much pressure as I put on myself. I have come here to play the best football I can and I’m going to give 100 percent and try to help the team to win things.”
There has been fevered conjecture over how Ronaldo and Bale will co-exist both on and off the field. However,the Welshman reiterated his belief that it is the Portuguese who remains the better player and more senior figure at the club.
“Ronaldo is the boss here, he’s the main player and the best player in the world so I want to learn off him.
“It will be an honour to play with him. I think we’ll have a great team and I hope we win a lot of trophies together.”
The 24-year-old arrived in the Spanish capital on Sunday night before undergoing a medical on Monday morning, which he passed without any problems despite not having played since mid-July due to an apparent foot injury.
Bale will fly back to Britain to meet up with the Wales squad on Monday evening ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Serbia in the coming week.
And he is hoping the match practice gained in those matches will mean he will be ready to make his debut when Real travel to Villarreal on September 14.
“It’s well known I had a slight injury which took me a bit of time to get over, but I always wanted to be here in the white shirt of Madrid and hopefully I can get match time with Wales and come back fit.
“I feel like I am in good shape. I need to take it step by step but I hope to be involved in the Villarreal game.”
Earlier, Bale had delighted adoring fans at the Santiago Bernabeu by greeting them in Spanish and taking to the pitch in his number 11 Real shirt for the first time to fire balls into the crowd.
And club president Florentino Perez also handed a warm welcome to his latest star signing by lauding the qualities that led Bale to being crowned players’ and football writers’ player of the year in England last season.
“We are in this temple of Real Madrid to incorporate a new man who knows very clearly what are the values of this club,” Perez said.
“A man who has been chosen as the best player in the Premier League last season. A young footballer but with great qualities, committed to the sport and whose dream has been to be a Real Madrid player.
“Gareth you are going to help us to make the legend of this club even greater and stronger. This is your stadium, your shirt, your badge and your fans. From today this is your home.”
Back in London, Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose has said nobody at White Hart Lane should begrudge Bale his mega-money move.
Tottenham have spent more than £100 million during the transfer window as they try to compensate for the loss of Bale and bolster their chances of qualifying for the Champions League, having just missed out on a place among Europe’s elite this term after finishing fifth in the Premier League last season.
Not everyone was as magnanimous. Arsene Wenger, manager of Tottenham’s North London rivals Arsenal, described the bid as a “joke”, while new Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino claimed it showed “a lack of respect” given the current economic climate.