Belfast Telegraph

Gareth Bale: Thrill has gone when it comes to big transfers

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Jim Gracey

Take away a little mystery, the element of surprise, a frisson of excitement and what's left in the spice of life, other than the mundane and the football transfer market?

You needed to be on the moon these past few months not to have been underwhelmed by Gareth Bale finally completing his move to Madrid yesterday.

A world record £85.3million transfer with a big so what about it. Football really does need to be careful how it conducts its' business when that kind of deal is greeted with such indifference.

Remember when football moves still had the capacity to thrill in their unexpectedness: Eric Cantona from Leeds to Man United, Kenny Dalglish from Celtic to Liverpool, Kevin Keegan from Hamburg to Southampton, Mo Johnston from Nantes to Rangers. Eye-openers all because we didn't see them coming.

The big transfers now have become a three ring circus on an extended summer season with agents, advisors and 'sources' close to players spinning, agitating and enginering moves daily in the public domain to the extent when they actually happen, we're relieved the charade is over.

Something has become lost in football's translation from entertainment to business when a 100million euro transfer fails to excite as it should. And when you lose the ability to wow, you've lost your unique selling point.

Disinterested they are not in sunny Spain. While the Madrileños filled the Bernabeu to hail their new Galáctico, the rest of the debt-ridden country, with unemployment and home repossessions at record levels, and a deep-seated belief of state-sponsored support for Real's ambitions, had their own expressions of greeting... obsceno and escandaloso. No mystery there.

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