Madrid’s Perez hails Bale as one of Europe’s great players

Gareth Bale is “one of the great players in Europe” according to Florentino Perez, but the Real Madrid president did not offer any assurances on the Wales international’s future.

Bale fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane at Madrid and spent last season on loan in the Premier League with former club Tottenham.

Zidane’s second departure as head coach paved the way for a return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge during Bale’s maiden season in the Spanish capital in 2013-14 that culminated in Madrid’s 10th Champions League crown.

In an interview with El Transistor on Onda Cero, Perez referenced Bale scoring a key goal during extra time of that final triumph over Atletico Madrid, along with his similarly decisive contributions in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona and 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool.

Although he was not always first choice for ex-Spurs boss Jose Mourinho last season, Bale scored 16 times in 19 starts and 34 appearances overall.

Of Premier League players to score 15 goals or more in all competitions during 2020-21, none did so at a better rate than Bale’s one every 104.4 minutes. Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho was the next most efficient in that regard, with 19 goals at one every 118.8 minutes.

Overall, Bale has 105 goals in 251 appearances for Madrid.

“He’s a great player. The way I see him, he is one of the great players in Europe,” Perez said of Bale, who has impressed on Wales’ run to the last 16 of Euro 2020 and has a contract at Madrid running until June 2022.

“Each one is as he is and has his personality. The last thing I remember from him is in Kiev [against Liverpool]. He throws a scissors [overhead kick] and scores a goal. And then he scores another.

“And the header in Lisbon [against Atletico Madrid]. That race against Barcelona in Valencia in the Copa del Rey.

“Would I would like him to stay? I love all [the Madrid players].”

The most notable outgoing at Madrid this close season, arguably more so than Zidane, is long-serving captain Sergio Ramos.

The veteran defender bade a tearful farewell to the club last week and has claimed he did not want to leave Madrid, only to be told a contract offer that was on the table for him had expired.

“I have adoration for Sergio and I am not going to talk about it. He has been a Real Madrid legend,” Perez said.

“We offered him a contract, we told him that he had a deadline and he did not admit it. He thought otherwise.”

Perez added that there would be a role for Ramos at Madrid when the 35-year-old’s playing days conclude, if he so desires.

“I love Sergio as a son. I bought him in 2005. Of course, I’m sorry,” Perez said.

“He will return, this is his house. It has happened to me with other players. I love him as if he were my son and I wish him the best.

“I am not going to talk here about who is right and who is not. There are no nuances.”