Jonathan Barnett, Gareth Bale
For the second successive summer, the departure of Gareth Bale is a priority within the corridors of power at Real Madrid, yet Los Blancos’ toughest opponent in getting their desired outcome is Jonathan Barnett, the Welshman’s agent.
Bale’s incredibly successful cycle in the Spanish capital is at an end, and it is necessary for Los Merengues to find a way to move him out of the club.
Unfortunately, his salary of 30 million euros per year is prohibitive for prospective purchasers and it is also too high a salary to keep paying a player who Zinedine Zidane has no interest in using in competitive matches.
Bale, though, doesn’t want to leave Real Madrid and any passage out of the club can only be smoothed out by Barnett, who according to Forbes magazine is the most powerful agent on the planet at this moment.
Barnett was a stranger in Spain when Florentino Perez’s pursuit of the Southampton academy graduate began, however he had been hugely successful in England helping to put both Brian Lara and Lennox Lewis into the public eye.
Barnett’s most high-profile involvement with the sport perhaps came in 2005 when he brokered the deal between Arsenal and Chelsea for Ashley Cole.
However, the agent was involved in an illegal meeting with Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon, Chelsea’s chief executive at the time, and this caused Barnett to lose his license for 18 months.
He worked closely with Perez to broker the deal for Bale with Daniel Levy, and he quickly became a key player in persuading Levy to allow the player to leave.
“I managed to get Cole out of Arsenal,” Barnett explained in 2013 as he fought to complete an even tougher deal.
Bale’s contract is incredibly problematic to Real Madrid, especially at a time when post-COVID 19 clubs are tightening their belts accordingly.
He is incredibly comfortable with life off the pitch in Spain, living in the same La Finca mansion which Kaka used to own, and his 15-million-euro net contract till has two years to run.
Unfortunately, the messy nature of this likely divorce and the months of sniping that has led to this situation has somewhat encouraged people to forget just how sublime Bale has been for the club, playing a crucial role in the Decima and Undecima triumphs.
Real Madrid had Barnett on their side back in 2013, but now they are going directly against him, they know the agent will fight for every single penny that Bale is due to earn until June 2022.
An offer was accepted by Barnett in 2019 from a Chinese club with Bale being offered a contract worth 25 million euros per season, however this move was quickly derailed by Los Blancos demanding a small transfer fee from Jiangsu Suning.
Barnett was livid at this change of approach and simply refused to deal with any further offers for the player for the remainder of the summer window.
He assured everyone that Bale would see out his contract in the Spanish capital city, and he has stuck to his word ever since.
Perez knows that the agent has to be handled with care, hence why Zidane has looked to avoid any public confrontation with Bale, especially after his infamous ‘if he leaves before tomorrow, it will be better’, statement in the summer of 2019.
Zidane has kept silent since then, but his actions have perhaps spoken louder than any words could have with the Welsh international finding it difficult to get into the team prior to Christmas, and then being totally frozen out after the Pandemic enforced break.
The situation as of August 17, 2020 is reminiscent of the Cold War on an inconceivably smaller scale, both side is waiting for the other to blink, to commit an action which disrupts the stalemate.
Los Blancos no longer hang Bale’s shirt in the club’s official stores, even though it is sold on request, whilst the player and Barnett are making a possible exit as painful as possible for the LaLiga Santander champions.