Real Madrid ace Gareth Bale must park his ego and take a pay cut to fulfil his dreams

ONE mantra you’re sure to hear chanted throughout the sporting world is that nothing can be achieved without team spirit.

There’s no “I” in team. Togetherness is next to Godliness. And it is advisable to disappear on SAS boot camps, eat worm omelettes and even drink one another’s urine in order to successfully “bond” before a major engagement.

Gareth Bale has won four Champions League titles at Real Madrid but there are issues behind the scenes
Alamy Live News

So wouldn’t you just love to see old Bear Grylls grapple with Real Madrid?

Because on Saturday night, Real achieved one of football’s greatest feats by completing a hat-trick of European Cups, when no club had previously even retained the thing during the Champions League era.

And within minutes of the final whistle in Kiev, it became apparent they had done so despite the fact they all pretty much hate each other and are only concerned about themselves.

Gareth Bale — having scored a goal of genius and majesty to help win the  biggest club fixture of the year — instantly suggested that he wants out.

Gareth Bale started the final on the bench despite being fully fit and in top form
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The Welshman’s value shot up after his incredible goal

Cristiano Ronaldo, having suffered the rare indignity of being upstaged, then started talking about his Bernabeu career in the past tense.

But then this is Surreal Madrid, a hopping-mad box of ego-driven frogs which has more in common with Celebrity Big Brother than any other  club on Earth.

LOST BLANCO Manchester United ready to bid for £200million Gareth Bale following Zinedine Zidane snub

So having been immersed in this madness for five years, it’s little wonder that Bale — probably the most  accomplished British footballer of the last half-century — might struggle to think clearly about his future.

The Welshman believes he should be starting regularly for an elite club.

Quite right too, given that he can arrive in a Champions League final and immediately score a goal so awe-inspiring that an insurance company would deem it an “act of God”.

The word from Bale’s camp, even before he was axed from the starting line-up against Liverpool, was that his relationship with boss Zinedine Zidane was irretrievably broken.

And Zidane is going nowhere. Bale will be 29 this summer and his most obvious next move would be back to the Premier League.

Manchester United, with their Galactico recruitment policy and need to compete with Manchester City, are the most likely destination.

Yet Bale’s £650,000 weekly wages, and Real’s valuation of around £180million, mean even United’s eyes are watering.

Especially as they have just lavished similar wages on Alexis Sanchez only to see the Chilean struggle.

City and Chelsea are the only other two English clubs who could even think of meeting  Bale’s transfer fee and wages, yet neither would be willing to do so for an injury-prone player with rapidly diminishing resale value.

So if Bale wants to wring the maximum amount of glory from the remainder of his peak years, he will probably have to take a significant pay cut.

Such a move would be almost unheard of for one of the world’s top players still the right side of 30.

But it would mark Bale out as something unusual — a leading player not obsessed with the  accumulation of greater and greater wealth.

Despite those  four Champions League triumphs, those who know Bale say that his happiest time in football was reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 with Chris Coleman’s Wales squad.

During that campaign he relished being among a band of brothers, rather than in Madrid’s madhouse.

So while Real Madrid  somehow managed to prove team spirit is not essential, a move might allow Bale a reminder that unity can be fun.

JURGEN KLOPP is a hugely likeable, charismatic leader who is a true force of nature.

But although the German coach significantly improved Liverpool, he hasn’t lost six straight finals entirely by chance.

No, we shouldn’t crucify Loris Karius for possessing two  left hands and dropping the European Cup.

But it’s fair enough to question Klopp’s judgment when he persisted with a keeper who simply isn’t good enough at the highest level.

Jurgen Klopp’s record in finals is a cause for concern
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SMOKING isn’t big or clever, kids.

Yet in an age where touchline ‘passion’ is demanded of managers, the sight of a boss chain-smoking surely shows he cares.

Chelsea target Maurizio Sarri puffed away in the dugout at Napoli — but if he joins Blues he’d have to stick to a crafty one out the back of the stadium.

Those who recall Argentina’s ultra-cool Cesar Luis Menotti tabbing it up in the 70s will back my campaign to grant managers immunity from the smoking ban.

ENGLAND’S Test team is at its lowest ebb since 1999 when it was bottom of the world rankings.

Captain Joe Root appears out of his depth, while a talented middle- order continually play kamikaze shots. A crushing home loss to Pakistan, on the back of a humiliating winter Down Under, is the result of years of bad planning.

Including  no County Championship games at the height of summer. And the ECB’s answer?

Spending £45m a year on a new 100-ball format for made-up sides, that will dominate the domestic calendar from 2020. It beggars belief.

Jo Konta’s excuse for her French Open exit was to pin the blame on the press in a foul-mouthed rant
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JO KONTA, Britain’s No 1 women’s tennis player, has blamed the “b*****ds” in the press for her continued failure to win at the French Open.

We shouldn’t have mentioned that she has never achieved a main draw win there, so contributing to 32 unforced errors in a straight-sets loss to world No 93 Yulia Putintseva.

Konta could have played under the flag of her native Australia where the press are  jingoistic cheerleaders.

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