The last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind for Gareth Bale.
That’s an understatement.
On September 1 he was sold to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for a world record fee of $132 million. Then on Saturday September 14 he made his Madrid debut against Villarreal and scored. And after making his UEFA Champions League debut for Real against Galatasaray as a second half sub, the 24-year-old Welshman can finally reflect on it all after their 6-1 win.
“It is amazing and a big reason why I joined such a big club was to be playing in the biggest competition in the world and it was great to get out there tonight, get the win and a good start,” Bale said.
Many were assuming Bale would once again start for the Spanish giants, but after playing 60 minutes on Saturday, manager Carlo Ancelotti decide to start the former Tottenham attacker on the bench. And he wasn’t really needed if truth be told, as his teammates demolished Turkish giants Gala in impressive fashion.
(MORE: Galatasaray 1-6 Real Madrid; Ronaldo scores hat trick as Madrid run riot)
Still Bale came on to play a cameo role late on and play his part in a few goals, and it seems as though he may come off the bench a few more times in the coming weeks as he builds up his fitness following a preseason interrupted by injuries.
“I spoke with the manager and I had no preseason whatsoever, I have trained seven or eight days, had 30 minutes for Wales and 60 minutes on the weekend,” Bale said. “So it was all about easing me in, and I felt good when I came on and I contributed. It is a different situation not to have a preseason and it is a bit difficult, but I am feeling like I am getting there, getting minutes on the pitch and it is all about game time and building myself up.”
With the most-expensive player in the world playing the role of a substitute and Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo helping himself to a hat trick to celebrate his new contract with Real… is there any stopping Los Galacticos in this seasons Champions League?
Don’t stab at the ball!
It’s a cry that echoes from youth matches to the upper reaches of the game, but Riyad Mahrez has a tendency to force defenders into forgetting fundamentals.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The Leicester man, linked to Arsenal, danced through the Celtic defense in Saturday’s International Champions Cup action to whip a shot home and give the Foxes a 1-0 lead in Glasgow (The Bhoys have since tied it up).
We’ve seen this so many times from the Algerian, who hopefully sticks around Leicester for the club’s UEFA Champions League run and Premier League title defense.
DeAndre Yedlin left the United States for England in January 2015, the latest step in a career trajectory simply described as “Up”.
Yedlin, now 23, acclimated to life in the Premier League before making a late season appearance with Tottenham to close the 2014-15 season.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The next year saw him force into Sam Allardyce‘s Sunderland lineup, transforming his defensive acumen in a way that few USMTN fans could deny during this summer’s Copa America Centenario (That pesky red card aside).
But not only is Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, but Yedlin’s manager at Sunderland is gone. What does this mean for Yedlin? Let’s consider three primary options:
Sunderland still buys him — New manager David Moyes loves him a mobile fullback with offensive capabilities. Not that Yedlin is Leighton Baines, but a starting right back slot in the Premier League could still be in the cards.
Tottenham keeps him around — Mauricio Pochettino likes to rotate his defenders and will have a heavy schedule on his plate. Kieran Trippier was unable to unseat Kyle Walker last season, so the No. 2 chair could be open for Yedlin (although Trippier showed he’s on the level while at Burnley, leading the league in crosses during 2014-15).
Tottenham loans him out — Speedy right backs will be in demand at several spots, and Sunderland is just one destination where fans are clamoring for reinforcements. Lack of purchases is one big reason Steve Bruce just left Hull City, and clubs like that will be aiming for relatively proven players on loan.
Fabian Delph means no offense to Martin O’Neill, Paul Lambert, and Manuel Pellegrini, but he’s never seen anything like the management of Man City boss Pep Guardiola.
“The first three weeks have been amazing. I’ve learned more than I have throughout my whole career,” he said to the BBC. “It is a big statement but it is the truth.”
[ MORE: Wenger open to big spending ]
He’s not alone in his praise for Guardiola, as defender Gael Clichy is thrilled at what’s transpiring in front of him at training.
“That’s something new as before we were quite open and if you look at our games from last year we were conceding a lot of goals on the counter-attack because we were an offensive team and open. I guess he’s trying to make us as offensive as previous years but just as solid at the back.”
Later in the article, Clichy talked about his friendship with Delph (which really ties our post together). City’s site even used the term “bromance”. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
While Manchester United and Liverpool have been the clubs grabbing headlines with transfers this summer, Arsene Wenger would like to remind you that:
A) There’s plenty of time left in the window.
B) Arsenal has a lot of money.
C) They did sign Granit Xhaka for big dollars.
[ RUMOR ROUNDUP: Mahrez to Arsenal ]
The Premier League’s longest-tenured manager opened up about the Gunners’ plans to keep looking for the right targets, and said the club is still “very active” and working with a month-and-a-half to go in the window.
“We are very active and if we find the right candidates, we will spend the big money. We have already spent big and, until now, nobody has made a bigger transfer than we have in the country.
He was also asked about Mauro Icardi, Arda Turan, and Alexandre Lacazette:
“I wouldn’t like to come out on names because if you don’t get them afterwards, people ask why. We are active, very active every day and it’s not over. Today we are on July 22 and the transfer market finishes on August 31. You know that a lot happens in the last week, so it’s a long time to go, but we are active and we are working.”
Arsenal could use a star striker, or at least depth behind Olivier Giroud, and have added young English back Rob Holding to go with scooping up Xhaka.
Do you think Wenger will dig into the bank again this summer for a big signing? If so, who?