While Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second straight Ballon d’Or triumph, the future of the man who usurped him as the world’s most expensive player continues to be a hot topic of debate. Bale was subjected to criticism after Real Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to Valencia at the start of the year for his decision to go for goal rather than pass to Karim Benzema with a chance late on. And early on in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Espanyol, in which he went onto score a superb second goal, Bale was jeered by a section of the Bernabeu crowd after not passing to Ronaldo.
Such unrest has come at the same time as the former Tottenham forward continues to be linked with a blockbuster move back to the Premier League with Manchester United. Yet despite their relationship being the source of much scrutiny since Bale’s transfer, Ronaldo defended the 25-year-old at the Ballon d’Or gala on Monday.
“The people will be nice with him and they should be nice,” he said, reports BBC Sport. “Things with Gaz [Bale]are normal. They [fans] know that Gaz is a very important player for us, a key player.”
With manager Carlo Ancelotti also speaking out in support of Bale and Madrid unlikely to give up so quickly on a player in whom they made such a massive investment, a transfer to Manchester United or anywhere else would appear to remain a distant possibility at this stage.
Meanwhile, it appears unlikely that Real Madrid will be making any major additions to their squad in the January transfer window. The only department of a star-packed squad that appeared in need of strengthening was a central midfield that lost the calming influence and positional acumen of Xabi Alonso in the summer. With Sami Khedira and Luka Modric both out injured in December, Ancelotti even suggested that he was considering making an addition to his midfield, and named young Brazilian Lucas Silva as a player he held an interest in. However, with Khedira, who looks set to see out the remaining six months of his contract, now back available and Modric closing in on a return to training, Ancelotti explained that he has had a rethink.
"When I spoke about Lucas Silva we were looking at getting some of our injured players back,” he said, reports Spanish sports daily Marca. “Khedira is fit, Modric's recovery is going very well and that's why we have no need to dip into the transfer market.”
Silva, 21, was recently voted the best defensive midfielder in Brazil’s top division last season and is a highly rated deep-lying passing midfielder. But, while the Cruzeiro man appears unlikely to arrive at the Bernabeu, at least for the time being, an even younger midfield starlet does look set to complete a transfer to the European and world champions.
Martin Odegaard, who became the youngest player to appear in a European Championship match when suiting up for Norway aged 15 years and 300 days last October, has been courted by almost every top club across Europe in recent weeks. Reports strongly suggest that it is Real Madrid who have won the race to complete his transfer from Stromsgodset, although Ancelotti stressed that a deal has not yet been finalized.
"Yes, he trained with us. He's a very skilled and promising young player,” he said. “But we haven't made a decision as yet.”
Since Manchester United signed Victor Valdes last week, the future of the Premier League club’s current first-choice goalkeeper, David de Gea, has come into sharper focus. The former Atletico Madrid stopper has entered the final 18 months of his deal at Old Trafford and has repeatedly been linked with a transfer to Real Madrid. But one man who doesn’t think that deal would be shrewd business for Los Blancos is former president Ramon Calderon. The man succeeded by Florentino Perez, instead, still has faith in the club’s current No. 1, Iker Casillas.
“We already have the best goalkeeper in the world, which is Casillas,” he told British radio station Talksport. “We also just bought Keylor Navas. I don't see any need to get any other goalkeeper, even though De Gea is perhaps also one of the top five goalkeepers in the world. But I think Casillas can still be at the top for three or four years. I don't see any need [for De Gea].”