Just under three months after his reported €100m world record transfer to Real Madrid CF, Gareth Bale said his hat-trick in the 4-0 weekend win against Real Valladolid CF signified the end to the attacker's frustrating start to life in the Spanish capital.
Displaying gradual improvement in recent weeks since an injury-hampered opening to his career at the Santiago Bernabéu, the 24-year-old celebrated his sixth full game in Madrid's colours with goals in the 33rd, 64th and 89th minutes to help Carlo Ancelotti's side to a sixth win in their last seven games in all competitions. "It's always a pleasure to score but even more so when you manage to net a hat-trick at this stadium," the former Tottenham Hotspur FC and Southampton FC attacker explained after registering his third career treble.
Deprived of pre-season training due to injury and protracted negotiations surrounding his reported world record move to Spain, Bale struggled to hit optimum fitness in the opening weeks of the current campaign. Successive thigh complaints followed shortly on from his debut goal in the 2-2 draw away to Villarreal CF, leading his club to prepare an intensive 15-day training regime which Bale underwent during the October international break.
"I needed my time to adapt especially after not having had a pre-season, but I'm now starting to improve," Wales' youngest-ever senior international explained after registering his ninth goal in 13 appearances in all competitions for Madrid. "I scored three today but I hope to get even better; in fact, I know I can. I will continue working hard in training and during games while I want to learn from the best players, like Cristiano Ronaldo."
Bale's performance on Saturday – which included his sixth Liga assist of the season for Karim Benzema's 36th-minute goal – made light of Ronaldo's absence through a thigh problem and drew plaudits from coach Carlo Ancelotti. "I think that his period of adaptation is now complete," the Italian tactician said after once again fielding the Welsh attacker on the right side of a 4-2-3-1 formation. "He's a very important player for us. He's doing well and is confident."
That confidence may not yet extend to Bale's level of Spanish – of which he said, "I'm not quite ready to use the language at the moment but I'm putting in a lot of effort in order to learn" – however, his on-field improvements match those of his team, currently three points off the pace in the Liga and already assured of a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. "Everything I had dreamed of is starting to come true here," he said. "This club and its fans are incredible."
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