Gareth Bale agent Jonathan Barnett has hit out at ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant’ criticism from Spanish media after the Welshman was labelled a ‘parasite’ last month.
The Welshman’s nine-year spell at Real Madrid looks to be ending on a sour note with the 32-year-old set to depart on a free transfer this summer having played just five matches in all competitions – the last appearance coming in February.
His lack of action for Madrid has led to anger from Spanish publications after seeing Bale sitting in the dugout for long spells – Marca launched an astonishing attack on the former Tottenham star, calling him a ‘parasite’ who had been ‘sucking Real Madrid’s euros’.
Gareth Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett (R) has leapt to his defence over criticism from the media
He hit out at ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant’ criticism after he was labelled a ‘parasite’ by Marca
Barnett insisted his client ‘loves the city and the club’ after winning 14 trophies in nine years
Bale – who has played more than 250 games for the club and won 14 trophies during that time – furiously hit back in a lengthy statement on social media, writing: ‘We all know who the real parasites are.’
And now Barnett has come to his defence after a tense few years in the Spanish capital where his client has come under fire for failing to fluently learn the language and infamously holding up a banner that read: ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid – in that order’.
‘Bale deserves a grand farewell from the club. And no, we have not yet decided on the future,’ Barnett said in an interview with Spanish outlet Deportes Cuatro.
‘He speaks Spanish. What happens is that people who do not know him say that he does not. Stupid and ignorant people who have not spoken to him. It’s a shame.
‘He has always been very happy in Madrid, he arrived as a young man, his children were born in the city, he has donated a lot of money to Spanish hospitals for Covid (a reported £400k) and he loves the city and the club, and I think the parasites are the ones who speak ill of him.’
Bale memorably attracted criticism for holding up the ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order’ flag
The incredible rant by journalist Manuel Julia Dorado, brought to attention by Sportsmail, read: ‘The Bale parasite came from the cold and rainy Britannia.
‘He settled in Spain, at Real Madrid, where, masked, he first showed diligence and love for the guest, but then his nature led him to suck blood without giving anything in return. Well, more than blood, he sucked, and sucks, the club’s euros.
‘Unlike others of its kind, such as the flea, the louse or the bedbug, the Bale parasite does not cause itching or illnesses in its host, but after sucking, it laughs and makes fun of it, showing a jocular contempt for the one from whom he lives.
‘He laughs, applauds, throws himself on the ground, sings, as a kind of humiliating ceremony, which, luckily, has an expiration date, like all misfortunes.’
The article was accompanied by a mocked up picture of a mosquito under a microscope with Bale’s head pasted on its body.
Bale is set to leave at the end of the season and has been criticised after years of Madrid woe
He was savaged for being more focused on international duty than his club, presenting Madrid with a £25,000 invoice for medical treatment in England – which was not paid to him – and ‘disappearing with amazing ease’ from daily activities.
Bale has since hit back at the attack, calling out Marca on social media for its ‘slanderous, derogatory and speculative’ story.
Praising Sportsmail for bringing the story to light, he wrote: ‘The Daily Mail shining a light on this piece of slanderous, derogatory and speculative journalism by Marca.
‘At a time where people are taking their own lives because of the callousness and relentlessness of the media, I want to know, who is holding these journalists and the news outlets that allow them to write articles like this, accountable?
‘Fortunately I have developed a thick skin during my time in the public spotlight, but that doesn’t mean articles like these don’t cause damage and upset personally and professionally to those at the receiving end of these malicious stories.
Bale arrived at the Bernabeu for a then world-record fee, but has fallen down the pecking order
‘I have witnessed the toll the media can take on peoples (sic) mental and physical health. The media expect superhuman performances from professional athletes, and will be the first to celebrate with them when they deliver, yet instead of commiserating with them when they show an ounce of human error, they are torn to shreds instead, encouraging anger and disappointment in their fans.
‘The everyday pressures on athletes is immense, and it’s as clear as day, how negative media attention could easily send an already stressed athlete, or anybody in the public eye, over the edge.
‘I hope that by the time our children are of an age where they are able to ingest news, that journalism ethics and standards will have been enforced more stringently.
‘So I want to use my platform to encourage change in the way we publicly talk about, and criticise people, simply for the most part, not meeting the often unrealistic expectations that are projected onto them.
‘We all know who the real Parasite is!’
Bale has consistently been accused of putting his country Wales before Madrid in Spain
Bale hit back at his critics after scoring a brace for Wales in a 2-1 win over Austria – but Marca couldn’t resist another dig at him, saying he was ‘a phenomenon when he wants to be’.
After scoring in the game, the forward appeared to shout ‘suck it’ into the camera in reference to the ‘parasite’ remark.
Bale’s career at Madrid looked to be over last season when he re-joined Tottenham on loan – initially starting off slow at Spurs but finishing with 16 goals in all competitions, despite an injury-hit campaign.
However, the club did not make his move permanent and he ended up going back to Madrid for one last season.