It was the summer of 2009 and Real Madrid were parading their new signing Cristiano Ronaldo to a full-house at the Santiago Bernabeu after securing his services for a world-record fee of €93 million. While Madrid were welcoming their latest Galactico, Gareth Bale was facing an uncertain future at Tottenham Hotspur. Poor form, injury and the ‘Bale curse’, were all contributing factors to reports that he might by shipped out of White Hart Lane with Nottingham Forest his destination.
What a difference four years makes.
While indeed it still holds true that Bale may depart the north London club, should he do so his destination this time will Los Blancos. The mood in the Spanish capital is bullish. According to Marca, Bale’s transfer to the Spanish giants is ‘imminent’ – so much so that the deal could be signed sealed and delivered in a matter of days.
And, if this proves correct, it will most likely be for a price that will set a new world record transfer fee. ESPN has reported that a €100 million offer is on the table. An astronomical figure if ever there was one. But, one that does beg the question, 'is Bale really worth it?' ‘Is he worth more than Ronaldo was four years ago?’
Last season the Wales international was near unstoppable. Despite not being an out-an-out striker, he netted 26 goals across all competitions. In the Premier League, only Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie scored more.
Still, does one great season justify such a price tag? Most likely not. And, here we are talking about just one great season. In prior seasons Bale was hardly the force that steamrolled Premier League defences seemingly at will. In fact, last term was the first where he scored more than 20 goals across all competitions.
Contrast this to Ronaldo when he moved from Manchester United. The Portuguese arrived at the Bernabeu having collected three Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy amongst a host of others. Now compared to United, with all due respect, Spurs are not perennial title contenders like their rivals. But, still the point needs to be made. Back then Real Madrid were buying a proven winner. They were also buying a more proven goal-scorer. For three years straight Ronaldo had scored 20 plus goals.
In comparison with the Portugal international, shelling out €100 million on Bale makes little sense. It makes even less sense when one ponders where the Welshman may fit into Carlo Ancelotti’s new look Madrid side. With Mezut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, Isco, Kaka, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and, of course, Ronaldo, already in the ranks where would he fit in?
Furthermore, signing Bale would come at the expense of bringing in a new striker. After the departure of Gonzalo Higuain, Benzema remains the sole natural forward in the side. There is Alvaro Morata too but just how much of a part he plays remains to be seen.
This could mean that Ronaldo may be asked more often to play as a natural No.9. But, it is a role the Portuguese does not like and given his effectiveness when playing in his favoured position on the left flank, would it make sense to move him around? The answer is no.
There does not seem a great deal of sense at all in spending so much on Bale. At least not at this present time. But perhaps this is more about pride than football and sense. Marca columnist Alfredo Relano has said: “Florentino needs to sign Bale to recover from the loss of seeing Neymar choose Barcelona instead”. And it could be little more than this.