Gareth Bale’s £85.3m transfer to Real Madrid launches him from the Europa League to legitimate Champions League contention, with his new employers rated 5/1 third favourites to be crowned the continent’s finest.
Real Madrid are the most successful club in the competition’s history having taken the cup with the big ears on nine separate Madrid bus tours, though they have endured an agonising wait for “La Decima”.
It was unthinkable when Real snared the trophy for the ninth time in Glasgow in 2002, their third triumph in five seasons, that double figures would elude them over a decade on.
However, despite reaching the knockout rounds every year since – and the semi-finals of each of the past three editions – their thirst remains unquenched.
As an apparent long-term Blancos admirer, Bale understands Real’s desperation to be re-established as Europe’s undisputed numero uno, to the extent that he referenced it during his lavish unveiling.
Odds of 7/5 are offered on Bale’s association with Real Madrid yielding a Champions League winner medal by the end of 2017/18, a delicious price given that, unless he exits early, it encompasses five challenges.
For that bet to fail – and you can oppose it at 8/15 if you prefer – Real would have to go 16 years without the prize.
The other unacknowledged ambition that the Welsh winger must possess having joined one of the grandest teams on the planet for a record fee is to become his nation’s first Ballon d’Or winner.
Real Madrid were the most productive side at showcasing victors in the decade before Lionel Messi decided to make it his personal property in 2009, helping Luis Figo, Ronaldo and Fabio Cannavaro achieve international acclaim.
Intriguingly for Bale’s hopes of receiving the award in 2013, all three of those were brought to the Bernabeu midway through their year of coronation.
Regardless, a chunky price of 7/1 is presented on Bale being recognised as the world’s greatest by 2016, odds that highlight the fact that neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo show signs of slowing up.