The British media has gone Gareth Bale-crazy in the last few weeks. The Welsh winger has been in scintillating form recently, notching up 4 goals in his last 3 games for Tottenham Hotspur. Right off-the-bat, this has drawn hyperbolic comparisons with certain messieurs Cristiano and Lionel – when asking who the best player in the world is. Comparisons between Bale and the 2012 Ballon d’Or runner-up are especially rife at the moment. Let’s address some of them and answer a burning question among many football fans: is Gareth Bale the real deal, or simply a hype machine?
Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have many similar qualities. Both stand comfortably over 6’0’, and are physically robust. Lightning pace and a terrifyingly similar free-kick style are two more comparisons between the Llanelli-born sensation and the former Manchester United star. Just take Bale’s opening goal for Spurs this weekend; a well-struck free-kick that dipped and fizzed with the same type of ferocity that lit up the Premier League a few years ago.
Immediately after his two-goal performance, SkySports asked if there was “Is Gareth Bale the best player in the world right now?”. On form, it can’t be argued that Bale is certainly performing in the upper echelons of the Premier League, but world’s best seems an awfully naïve thing to say.
It’s far too early to think of Bale on Ronaldo’s level. Sure, Bale has performed to a high level this season, but Ronaldo is simply one of the best ever. A bad season for CR7 would be a stellar one for Bale. There are two major differences I feel with the two: Ronaldo has two excellent feet. He can powerfully finish with both. Also, Cristiano Ronaldo has more variety to his game; more tricks and ways of getting past players. Bale can often be shut-down when double-teamed.
Moreover, Gareth Bale hasn’t even been the best player in the Premier League this season. Both Juan Mata and Robin van Persie have been more consistent than the Welshman. Some would even question as to whether Theo Walcott has been better. The stats would suggest so, Walcott has both more goals and assists that Bale. Performance-wise, they are probably a little closer, but it’s only been in the last couple of months that the Spurs winger has been on a tear. Luis Suarez is another player that has arguably out-performed Bale over the course of this season.
To conclude, this isn’t a knock on Gareth Bale. The 23-year-old is on stunning form, and is really driving Tottenham to the Champions League as of now. The problems lie more with the media in this country. Too quick are we to label players the world’s best on the back of a few good games. Let’s see if this form holds up for another couple of seasons and then we will have this discussion. That is of course, if Daniel Levy manages to keep his hands on his prized possession.