Gareth Bale is 24 years old and will be earning around R400 per minute for the next year. He’s just been traded from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid and the transfer of $130m, roughly R1.3bn, is the richest in history.
As a comparison, Bryan Habana is probably South Africa’s rugby player earning the most money playing offshore and gets paid around R650 000 per month to play for Toulon in France.
Bale will get around R19m per month at Real Madrid.
So how does a footballer from Wales - not South America, not Portugal, not even England, but rugby loving, coal-mining Wales – get to be worth R1.3bn?
Well, he’s pretty, clean cut, well spoken and even a freekick specialist. Ring a bell? Who else matches that description? Here’s a hint - he married a Spice Girl.
And that’s the meal ticket, because let’s be honest, Bale hasn’t really set the world on fire football wise.
Make no mistake – he’s good, maybe even very good, but mention the world’s top footballers and it’s the names of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie and Frank Ribery that pop up.
Bale hardly gets a mention.
So how did this happen?
In 2009 Real Madrid sold 1.2 million soccer shirts in Spain bearing Ronaldo’s name. This after he joined the team from Manchester United on a then record deal of £80m.
Real Madrid is on the record saying this money was recovered within that first year.
David Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003 for £35m.
He sold 1 million shirts in his first year at Real Madrid and has gone on to sell an estimated £1bn worth of shirts over his career. That’s around R15bn.
With football truly becoming a global sport, and viewing figures on the rise in the USA in particular, Bale – with his Abercrombie looks - may be Real Madrid’s weapon X for the lucrative American market. He may also be well received in China where Beckham has become royalty.
Bale may not be the next Batman, but he’s no fool. He’s made himself marketable, allegedly even trademarking his goal scoring gesture, where he forms a cute little heart shape with his hands and waves that to the adoring crowds.
That alone must have been worth a couple million to Real Madrid.
On the other hand, Bale may have football talent that will bring many trophies to the Bernabeu. 'Cause that’s what the club really wants from Bale.
Or is it?
*Follow James-Brent Styan on Twitter at @jamesstyan. Views expressed are his own.