So is Bale worth £85.3 million? The best way to approach this is to a take the philosophical route: is any human being worth £85.3 million? According to Nozick the answer is yes. Without bogging you down with too many details, Nozick's basic argument is if people are willing to see Real Madrid play (in Nozick's real example he uses basketballer Wilt Chainberlain) the riches Real Madrid earn are justifiably theirs, regardless of how worse off the people are for spending the little money they had. Essentially, this means if Real Madrid deem Bale is worth £85.3 million, then he is worth £85.3 million.
But is it ethical? This is in reference to messrs Michel Platini (UEFA President) and Gerardo Martino (Barcelona Coach) who have both uttered their disgust at the transfer fee. Going back to the Nozick example, it does seems a bit strange considering the heavy recession Spain are in, Real Madrid continually belie the monetary conditions ordinary Spaniards are facing. As recently as April 2013, the Spainish economy was reported to have shrunk by 0.5% between January and March 2013. Furthermore, the number of the jobless in Spain has eclipsed 6 million. Real Madrid on the other hand have yet again been ranked number one in the Deloitte Football Money League with a revenue of a whopping 512.6 million euros in 2012 (the last year to be reviewed).
Clearly the lavish lifestyle of Real Madrid is not the reality for many Spaniards, so should Real Madrid show more fiscal responsibility? No. I am a believer of Nozick's philosophical argument and I partially disagree with the views of Platini and Martino. Real Madrid are footballing business and as such hold no responsibility to public aside from ensuring their fans and opposing supporters are safe within their vicinity. Their only concern is to drive up the profits for their shareholders and ensure that the trophy cabinet is bulging, keeping fans satisfied so they continually buy merchandise and season tickets.
If the whole of the world is willing to stand by and let hundreds of thousands of Syrians be killed, why should a mere football institution be held to a greater standard? We need to learn to separate our failings, learn to stand on our on two feet and stop vicariously living through entities and making idols out of them.
Where I do agree with Platini and Martino is the fees banded about today are too extortionate and regularly favour the obscenely rich and financially negligible clubs. If there was a cap on transfer fees, it would mean teams would be less likely to sell to the highest bidder, because as there is less money needed to buy a player, there is less of a need to sell to buy (a-la Tottenahm this year). This in turn creates competition as it forces the player to choose wisely between his suitors; the total opposite of Willian who jumped from Liverpool, to Tottenham, to Chelsea all because the latter clubs were offering more.
Now that the ethics behind the deal have been exhausted, it is time to work out whether or not in pure football terms Bale merits the £85.3 million Madrid have spent on him. As touched on earlier, Real Madrid regularly gross the highest annual revenues in world football. Indeed merchandise is a massive part of their wealth. Real Madrid's Galactico policy (Real Madrid's policy of buying the worlds best players) sees fans flock to stores in droves to get the name of the latest superstar Real have signed on the back of their shirts. Luis Figo in 2000, Zinedine Zidane in 2001, Ronaldo in 2002, David Beckham 2003; Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema in 2009; they are all living proof that the expensive tactic pays for itself in merchandise alone.
However, all of the above had performed at the highest level and had operated at a world class level consistently for several years (just the former in the case of Benzema). On the other hand, Bale has only one world class season of note and although he had threatened to explode the he way did last season for several years (most noticeable in the 2010/11 edition of the Champions League), such performances were sporadic prior to last season. Furthermore, he has only performed at the highest level of football for one season (again a reference to the 2010/11 Champions League edition). This impacts heavily on his star power, indeed only 20,000 Madrid supporters were out in force for his unveiling. Compared to the unveilings for the other Galatico's, Bale's (at least by numbers alone) is quite tame and goes a long way to showing his current standing in world football.
However, Bale and his advisory team have already taken steps to promote him better. Bale has been confirmed as being a new face on the popular gaming series FIFA 14 and he has trademarked his celebration (the heart sign pictured above) which is due to earn him £3 million a year. Signing with Real Madrid will only only enhance his fledgling reputation, nonetheless it is a deal Real will struggle to recoup their money on. Of course if Bale's form continues on its current upward trajectory then he would be worth every penny. For Madrid's sake as much as Bale's, lets hope he does not get a lengthy injury!