Gareth Bale – Destined To Flop But Still Cream Of The Crop
After another rather anonymous showing in last night’s Champions League semi-final defeat against Juventus, Gareth Bale’s wicket at the Santiago Bernebeu is getting stickier by the week.
Should it all go belly up for Real in the next few weeks, you’d imagine the fall guy won’t be hard to predict.
Florentino Perez raised eyebrows over his protracted pursuit and outlay of around €100 million on Gareth Bale back in the summer of 2013.
Of course, the Welsh wonder did just have a spectacular season with Spurs, winning both PFA Player of the Year and Football Writer’s Player of the Year and was arguably the hottest property in world football. You couldn’t blame Perez for coveting Bale but did the transfer make sense of was it a case of Perez attempting to begin his Galaticos’ 2.0 policy?
His performances so far for Los Merengues over his two seasons or so have been inconsistent, to say the least. From game-winning epic performances to pub showings, Bale has had more dips than an Alton Towers rollercoaster.
He’s obviously been hampered by injuries throughout his time there but his rather underwhelming showings this season – particularly in the biggest games – will have done little to quell the fear Perez has funded the biggest flop in the history of the game.
One of the major problems he faces is that just like his former side, Spurs – who were built around him – Real are built around Cristiano Ronaldo and everyone else plays second fiddle. You just can’t afford to be a player with a price tag of €100 million and NOT be the number one star of the side.
It also doesn’t help that the Portuguese forward has made life particularly difficult for Bale with his spoilt antics exacerbating the situation.
Another issue he faces is the tactical subtlety of La Liga as opposed to the 100mph football of the Premier League. In an interview last season, former Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas spoke of how it was easier to score in England than in Spain because, in terms of defending and closing down space, La Liga defenders are far more adept at stopping you than in England’s elite division.
Bale’s main assets are his pace and power when games are stretched, which is so often the case in the Premier League. In Spain’s La Liga, a much more tactically intelligent style of football, you need more than just those basic tools to succeed.
In so many ways, the signing of the Welshman made very little sense – particularly from a stylistic point of view. It is all the more confusing when you consider that, at the time, they already had Mesut Ozil – a player arguably more technically gifted – already on their books and sold him for just under half of what they paid for Bale.
The most likely and probable answer is merchandise. When Real Madrid forked out €35 million for Manchester United’s David Beckham in 2003, they knew exactly what they were buying: a global marketing phenomenon.
Beckham went on to sell over 1,000,000 Real Madrid shirts, recouping his transfer fee nearly three times over. One would assume the Real supremo feels Bale will be another marketing masterstroke and yet you would fear he may have overestimated the Welshman’s potential.
Lacking the movie star good looks of Beckham and Ronaldo, Bale relies on his football to do the talking, much like Lionel Messi, and, for one reason or another, he’s stuttering badly at the minute.
What now for the Welsh wizard, though? In truth, despite being publically back, it looks like a return to the Premier League may be on the cards with Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City all circling.
Coming home to a league where his talents are more suited and appreciated would do him the power of good and reignite his reputation as one of the world’s deadliest footballers.
Gareth Bale remains a world-class talent but his move to Real Madrid, for a myriad of reasons, was always destined to fail.