Wales boss Chris Coleman has praised Gareth Bale for the progress he has made since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu 18 months ago.
The 25-year-old endured a tough start to life in the Spanish capital following his 91-million-euro move from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2013. He was hampered by injury and took his time to find his form when fit again.
But he exploded into life in the second half of the campaign, with his highlights being the goals he scored in the Champions League final and Copa del Rey final.
This season, Bale has netted 12 times in 25 appearances, and has helped his team to another two trophies – the European Super Cup and Club World Cup. Despite that, he has been criticised in some quarters in recent weeks to being too selfish and not passing to Ronaldo enough.
But Coleman defended his countryman, saying he has dealt with enormous pressure and has flourished under the spotlight.
“He has gone there with all the pressure of being the most expensive player in the world, which is not easy. He has gone away from Tottenham to a new country, environment and culture. And it’s not just what is happening on the pitch for him, but the off the pitch,” Coleman told Sky Sports News.
And he added:”He has handled it superbly well since he has been there. He has got even better as a player and I thought he had a great first season.”