‘Bale can compete with Messi, if…’

Former Real Madrid boss John Toshack claims Gareth Bale “can compete with Lionel Messi” for the Ballon d’Or – but only if he plays in his natural position.

The Welshman had been shunted back to the right against Barcelona, despite starting the season as a No 10, but he appeared in his most familiar role on the left wing in Los Blancos’ 4-3 win at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, grabbing a pair of assists in the process.

“Madrid are going through a little blip and Barcelona are taking advantage of this,” the ex-Wales Coach, who also managed Madrid over two spells, told Radio Catalunya.

“With Messi, Neymar and [Luis] Suarez everything is much easier.

“If Madrid and Roma couldn’t do anything against Barca then neither can Real [Sociedad], but every game is different and [Barca] may relax and not be so motivated.

“Things have changed [as a result of the Clasico], and the result is very difficult for players and Coach to take.

“In the two Champions League games this week, we saw [Madrid and Barca’s] reaction perfectly.

“Barca scored six, and look at what happened to Madrid… Barca are on an upward spiral and it’s a very difficult time for Benitez and his staff.

“It’s very early days yet [regarding Benitez’s position], and it’s not normal for a Coach, who has just arrived, to face questions [about his future] in November.

“It wouldn’t be very smart of Madrid if they didn’t have any patience, and I see no need for Madrid to make any changes.

“I’ve known [Bale] since he was 14. His main problem is that Madrid have paid so much money for him and play him in a position that isn’t his.

“If you want to see the best of Bale then you must play him in his best position [on the left].

“He can still compete with Messi for the Ballon d’Or as he’s still young.”

Tags FIFA Ballon d'Or Gareth Bale John Toshack Lionel Messi