Wales Training Session & Press Conference

Gareth Bale discusses “very stressful” transfer saga

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With his protracted transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid finally behind him, Gareth Bale has admitted the immense stress he felt during the process.

“It was a long time,” Bale told BT Sport. “It was very stressful to say the least.”

So, just how long was it?

The Guardian first noted Real Madrid’s interest in moving for the Welshman back on February 7, 2013 when Spurs manager Andre Villas Boas admitted that the squad needed to qualify for the Champions League in order to keep Bale from “the clutches of predatory clubs.”

That commotion was enough to catch Bale’s attention. “I knew their interest from the start and I was always confident the move would go through but obviously the chairman, Daniel Levy, had to do his business and do Tottenham well so I kind of understood that. But at the same time, thinking of myself, it was a hard time, it was stressful and I just had to be patient and try to focus.”

And focus he did, scoring 13 goals in the 16 competitions Spurs played in after the February 7th news broke.

Since completing his switch to the Bernabéu, Bale has described the move as a dream, noting that he has followed the club since he was a child. This, of course, is a good thing as the winger should be fully prepared for the exponential layers of stress that he will face in Madrid.

There will be the stress of adapting to a new city, new language and new culture. The stress of being the most expensive footballer in history. The stress of figuring out a way to coexist with the former most expensive footballer in history. And of course, the stress of the wonderfully inquisitive Spanish media, poking and prodding every touch he takes on the ball from now until the day he bids farewell to La Liga.

Dreams don’t come easy. Credit to Bale on seeing his out.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?