September 2, 2013

Is Gareth Bale worth more than Ronaldo? And is he better?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It’s finally official: Gareth Bale is the most expensive player in the world.

His summer-long saga of will-he-won’t-he has come to an end and the Welsh winger has officially joined Real Madrid for an astounding 85 million pounds, or 99 million euros, depending on which report you believe. Either way, it equals a world-record transfer, eclipsing the fee that Real paid Manchester United for the services of Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009.

A quick side note: Thanks to the wildly fluctuating international markets, Ronaldo’s transfer is still technically the highest if you look at it in terms of U.S. dollars. Because the exchange rate was lower in 2009, Euros got you more dollars and that means the record is still technically held by the Portuguese goal machine is some places in the world.

Now the inevitable questions come: Will Bale live up to that record fee? How will he cope with playing abroad? Can he be a global brand like Ronaldo and make that money back off shirt sales? Can he cope with not being the top player on a team built around him? Will Real offload some of their surplus talent? And how will Real use a player that essentially plays the same position as Ronaldo?

This are all questions worth asking and we’ll certainly know more both after Monday’s transfer deadline and after Bale suits up in Spain for the first time.

The question I’m trying to figure out is this: Is Gareth Bale worth more than Ronaldo was in 2009?

Age isn’t a factor, as Ronaldo was 24 when he made the move from England, like Bale is doing now. But figure what Ronaldo was doing for Manchester United and what he has done with Real.

In the season before his transfer, Ronaldo scored an amazing 42 goals for the Red Devils. Bale scored a career-high 26 last year with Tottenham.

United also won the league that year while Tottenham finished a point out of fourth.

The thing is that Bale had a lot worse company around him with Spurs. While United trotted out guys like Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, Spurs had Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor leading the line.

For my money, Ronaldo was and maybe still is the better player, worthy of the transfer record. But somebody eventually had to top it and Bale was as good of a choice as anyone.

Now, we do have one final question to answer: Are there two deadlier players to be standing over a free kick just outside of the box? And who takes it?


Reports are that Tottenham left the Bale transfer as late as it could to avoid allowing Arsenal to cash in on some cheaper rates for Real Madrid’s surplus players. Kudos to Spurs, always thinking about getting one over on their rivals. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t do it on the pitch. Despite spending more than $100 million more than Arsenal’s $0 this summer heading into Monday, the Gunners dispatched their North London rivals on Sunday with a 1-0 win. Looks like Tottenham has to remember that the most important place to get results isn’t in the board room or in the market, it’s on the pitch.


You may not believe this, but there is just one team left with a 100% record at the top of the table and it’s a side that has done it without their best player. Yes, Liverpool is alone atop with nine points after defeating Manchester United on Sunday. I’ve said it before, but can you imagine how good this Liverpool team could be with Luis Suarez back from suspension and Daniel Agger back from injury? It is a real threat to barge its way back into the top four after years out of the Champions League.


After Hatem Ben Arfa scored Newcastle’s first goal of the season in the Magpies’ win over Fulham, there is just one team yet to open its account this season: West Bromwich Albion. We predicted the Baggie would have troubles scoring this season without Romelu Lukaku, so hopefully it’ll be able to bring in some attacking talent before the deadline … There are three teams that haven’t scored from open play yet, West Brom, Hull City and – wait for it – Tottenham. The Spurs did come very close against Arsenal though … Why was Sunderland-Crystal Palace scheduled as the late Saturday game? Isn’t that like putting the Buffalo Bills against the Cleveland Browns in prime time? I’m not sure how the schedule is decided, but that was a bad call … See, there was no need to worry about Manchester City. Matija Nastasic is back in defence and the Sky Blues even bought some cover in Martin DeMichelis. City also got back in the win column after last week’s hiccup in Cardiff … I’m already regretting my pick for Sunderland to finish mid-table. That team looks like it has an identity crisis, which is understandable considering the amount of players it brought in … Enjoy that win Crystal Palace, there won’t be many this season.


I hope you were able to cycle out all of your Chelsea and Aston Villa players who weren’t available this week. Even more kudos if you were able to do so without using your wild card. That will come in handy much later when the FA Cup kicks off … Simon Mignolet now has an amazing 29 points through three games to lead the league fantasy-wise. But for keepers, the best value is Hull City’s Allen McGregor who has 18 points at a cost of just 4.5 pounds.

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