Real Madrid have officially unveiled their new player Gareth Bale, whose transfer has broken the world record fee.
The 24-year-old Welshman joins from London club Tottenham Hotspur for a reported 100 million euros – a sum that eclipses the 94 million euros the Spanish giants paid Manchester United for Cristano Ronaldo in 2009.
The 24-year-old is the latest “galactico” signing engineered by the world’s richest club under president Florentino Perez. He passed a medical at a clinic in Madrid on Monday morning before signing his contract and being presented to thousands of excited fans inside the giant arena at the Bernabeu stadium.
The summer’s longest transfer saga finally ended on Sunday when Spurs announced they had sold Bale to Real for 100 million euros and the La Liga club said he had agreed a six-year contract.
“Bale’s determination made it possible for him to be here today,” said Florentino Perez, his speech regularly interrupted by cheers.
Real also unearthed a picture of Bale wearing a club shirt as a child. “The moment he dreamed of as a child has arrived. This is your stadium, this is your shield and these are your fans. This is your home,” added Perez.
Bale then sprung a surprise by making a brief statement in Spanish. He told fans signing for the club was “a dream come true” and he hoped to help them win the “decima”, or 10th European title.
Bale could make his debut after the international break in Real’s La Liga match at Villarreal on Saturday Sept. 14.
The price Real paid for him has drawn criticism in Spain at a time when the nation is in the grip of a punishing recession and unemployment is hovering just below 30 percent.
Ordinary Spaniards are also being forced to swallow cuts in wages and benefits and the government is slashing spending on public services like health and education.