I’m one of the many people who thinks Gareth Bale is a brilliant player. His rise over the last few years has been outstanding and last season’s performances speak for themselves. I think he’d walk into most sides in Europe and at the age of 24 will only get better.
However I’m also one of the people who thinks he’s overrated. Overrated in the same way people say “X is the best thing sliced bread” – sliced bread is good but not as great as people make out.
Despite his excellent displays last season, I didn’t think Bale deserved to win the PFA Player of the Year Award. He pretty much only started playing well from December onwards, whereas the likes of Juan Mata and Michael Carrick were outstanding for almost the entire season. When you remember that the votes were actually cast around March – that means Bale’s fellow professionals were making their judgements on roughly 3 months of good form.
I certainly don’t think he’s worth anywhere near the reported £80-100m figure that is being bandied about by Real Madrid. In fact, outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, I don’t think anyone is. You’re talking about a player who’s had a great couple of years but has achieved very little. The fact that there’s still some debate about whether he deserved to win the PFA Award says it all.
To me, it seems like a case of Real Madrid desperately flexing their muscles and hoping the entire gym stops to watch them.
This is a club that traditionally spend huge amounts on big name players, just to make a statement. You don’t need me to go through the list of stars they have signed over the years, but in the last decade it’s been anything but successful. In 2003 they signed David Beckham whilst selling Claude Makelele. Zinedine Zidane asked “Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?” What he should have realised is that President Florentino Perez only cares about the gold paint – that’s what people see and that’s what brings in the money.
To his credit, Beckham actually performed very well during his time in Spain, but the team weren’t successful at all. The same thing happened in 2009 when Real smashed the world record twice in the space of a week, spending a combined total of £140m on Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite this, they’ve only won one trophy of any real significance since then.
Watching their arch rivals Barcelona dominate Spanish and European football over the last few years has clearly hurt Real. With very little silverware to be able to brag about (especially last season) and Neymar rejecting them for Barca, an obscene bid for another highly talented player is the best way for them to remind people they are still big hitters. When you consider that they still have Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria and Kaka – a firm favourite of new boss Carlo Ancelotti – plus new signing Isco, another winger or Number 10 isn’t exactly a priority.
There is no doubt the history and prestige of joining a club like Real Madrid is a big pull for Bale, and you can’t blame him for wanting to play in the Champions League. But maybe he should take a step back and consider whether he wants to be used as a statement. As good as he is, surely he must realise that Madrid’s intentions are not all football related.