Football Funnies

Madrid’s 100m Bale-out

Spain is struggling to keep its head above water financially due to the economic slowdown. UEFA’s insists on curbing spending through Financial Fair Play. La Liga clubs are going bankrupt and Spanish players are fleeing for greener pasturers. There seems to be no money in Spanish football or Spain as a whole any longer. WRONG! Real spent €100m on a certain Mr. Bale. €100m wow! Any way you spin it, the fee for Gareth Bale is absolutely senseless. Gareth Bale is a wonderful footballer, a proven match winner and a show man, BUT he’s not one of the top 10 players in the world. He’s probably top 15 but he has a way to go before he reaches the higher echelons of the game.

Ten players currently better than Bale: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Falcao, Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arjen Robben. I understand that all this is subjective and we can sit at a pub and argue about this until we’re blue in the face but as good as Gareth Bale is he has a long way to go before he proves to me that he’s a world beater on the greatest stage of them all.

The best way I can explain my disdain for this Bale fee is to directly compare him to the man who will be his team mate and the man he has usurped as most expensive player in history. This should help us show the difference in Florentino Perez’s thinking now and then.


Gareth Bale is 24 years old, the exact same age as Cristiano was when he also made the switch from England to Spain. Let’s look at what Gareth Bale has managed to achieve in his career so far.

Football League Championship PFA Team of the Year: 2006–07
Football League Young Player of the Year: 2007
FAW Young Player of the Year: 2007
Premier League PFA Team of the Year: 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
FWA Footballer of the Year: 2012–13
PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2010–11, 2012–13
PFA Young Player of the Year: 2012–13
UEFA Team of the Year: 2011

One thing that sticks out is the most recent PFA Player’s Player of the Year Award. Sometimes I wonder how the players manage to make a mess of this. In 2009, Ryan Giggs undeservedly won the award. Yes he was good but I feel this was an award for his overall contribution to Britishfootball as opposed to one season’s work. Last season the choice should have been simple, either Robin Van Persie or Luis Suarez. It was tough to stomach Suarez after he took a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm so RVP should have been the easy choice but again the player’s messed this up. I’m not saying Bale’s not brilliant but he’s not even the best player in England, he’s almost there.

In Cristiano’s case:

UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament (2): 2004, 2012
FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year (2): 2004, 2005
PFA Young Player of the Year (1): 2006–07
PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2006–07, 2007–08
PFA Fans’ Player of the Year (2): 2006–07, 2007–08
FWA Footballer of the Year (2): 2006–07, 2007–08
Barclays Player of the Year (2): 2006–07, 2007–08
Premier League Golden Boot (1): 2007–08
UEFA Champions League Topscorer (2): 2007–08, 2012–13
UEFA Club Forward of the Year (1): 2007–08
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (1): 2007–08
Ballon d’Or (1): 2008
Ballon d’Or Silver award (2): 2007, 2009
FIFA World Player of the Year (1): 2008
FIFPro World Player of the Year (1): 2008
World Soccer Player of the Year (1): 2008
PFA Premier League Team of the Year (4): 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09
FIFA Puskás Award (1): 2009
European Golden Shoe (2): 2007–08, 2010–11
UEFA Team of the Year (7): 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
FIFA FIFPro World XI (6): 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Looking at Ronaldo’s individual awards you get a sense of a player who was at the top of his game (and still is). When he won back to back English player of the year awards there was no dispute. There was no debating it because he was simply the best and miles ahead of every one else. He went on to win the Ballon D’Or and countless other awards including goal scoring honours. There wasn’t a thing any one was better than him at. Internationally he had done well for Portugal at Euro 2004, The 2006 World Cup and in other tournaments. It’s clear that Real Madrid were paying through their noses for the best player in the world.

With Bale, Real Madrid are paying through their noses for someone who will still be in Ronaldo’s shadow for at least another two years and in all likelihood won’t be seen as the best player in the world for a number of years because Ronaldo and a certain maestro by the name of Lionel Messi will still be going strong. Will Bale sell more shirts than Ronaldo? No! Will he take free kicks? No! Penalties? No! Will he captain the side? No! Real Madrid are mesmerized by his ability to captivate and lead a Spurs team devoid of much talent last season on his own. Now Spurs have signed quality talent and I’m not sure Bale will be missed.

British players don’t adapt well to Spain so there’s also a big issue there. Ronaldo is Iberian, we all knew he’d take to the Bernabeu like a fish to water. Bale will need to learn a new language, adjust to a new lifestyle, new food and new culture. Of course this could be a welcome challenge but it’s a challenge that could be even more difficult with a €100m price tag looming over his head.


With the signing of Bale, there was no way Real could keep all of their stars happy. Something had to give or Ancelotti would have had a dressing room nightmare to deal with. Between Ozil, Di Maria, Modric and Kaka someone had to go. Of course the formation chosen to accommodate Bale would come into the equation. Kaka knew the writing was on the wall and asked for an exit which Madrid granted. Surprisingly Real allowed Ozil to leave to make way for Bale. Mesut Ozil has been the second best player at Madrid for the last 4 years. The European leader in assists in the last 3 years. Bale has certainly pushed Mesut out of Madrid and into Arsenal’s arms. Perhaps Madrid know what they are doing here, I have my doubts. I wonder who is going to supply Ronaldo and Bale with the goals they are supposed to get this season.

Real desperately needed a striker more than anything else. They foolishly didn’t pursue Lewandowski and have let Edinson Cavani and Falcao go to France now they are stuck with Karim Benzema (a player I have little faith in). The better idea would have been to let Bale develop even more, prove he can be the best player in the world while running his contract down maybe two more years. Ronaldo would be 30 and definitely on the decline and Bale would slot in to take over the mantle. Perhaps by then Ronaldo would return to Manchester United where he seems to want to be and you get €40m to help with the Bale transfer. In that scenario you probably have the real deal, the proper Gareth Bale. Now Real are hoping and praying that the €100m they have spent will reap dividends. In 2009 they broke the record on a sure thing with Ronaldo. In 2013 Real are making a huge gamble. With debts hanging over them and Financial Fair Play kicking in I’m not sure if this is the best thing for them to do.

Good luck to Madrid, they will definitely need it. If the Bale project fails Florentino’s reign could end disastrously and Galacticoism may permanently give way to a more prudent footballing business model. Maybe that’s a good thing.


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