There is only one name on the lips of world football this week, Gareth Bale. A 21 year old from the outskirts of Cardiff who meticulously dissected Maicon, regarded as the best defender in last years Champions League. The young Welshman made the European champion seem non-existent as he flew past him at every given chance. Rafa Benitez, in the latest of several cryptic analogies, referred to his Brazilian defender as a Volvo, lacking the pace and power to match the Ferrari that is Gareth Bale. He commented, “if you have a Ferrari and I have a Volvo, you will beat me in a sprint. A Volvo is a good car, but a Ferrari is faster.”
The plaudits didn’t stop there; Jamie Redknapp hastily referred to the mercurial Bale as the best player in the world. Paul Le Guen was seen at White Hart Lane bowing down to the godlike ability he sees in Bale. The eulogies were countless; the new Ryan Giggs crowed some, worth £60 million crowed others. Bale has been in fantastic form for the whole of 2010. Yet two fantastic individual performances later and suddenly Gareth Bale is the most wanted man in world football. Barcelona want him, Real Madrid want him, Inter and Milan both want him. You can guarantee Man City will be preparing a bid to knock there rivals out of the water and Man Utd must be kicking themselves for letting Tottenham beat them to the players signature from Southampton.
Harry Redknapp claims the player is going nowhere, in his column for The Sun he boldly stated, “trust me, he won’t be leaving Spurs – even if we were to fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.” Unfortunately for Tottenham fans, next summer Bale will probably be on his way to one of football’s superpowers. Spurs will not be able to reject the crazy money the likes of Real Madrid and City can offer. If his form continues this season we could well be looking at a fee challenging the £80 million spent on Cristiano Ronaldo by Real Madrid. Conversely this media spotlight, coupled with the expectations on the young mans head could severely damage Bale’s game.
Due to Tuesdays performance, every time Gareth Bale steps on to a football pitch not only will great things be expected of him, he will be a marked man. Teams will double up on him, try to kick him out of games and do anything they can to nullify the threat that he poses. It is the ultimate compliment to a player but it is also a test of his credentials as one of the best players in the world. Ronaldo spends every game surrounded by opposition players and more often than not he still reaches a consistent level of excellence. Bale needs to reach this level; he has time on his side, he is only 21. It is a challenge the young man accepts; “As a player, you’ve got to keep trying to improve your all-round game — to kind of be unstoppable. Teams are trying to stop me and I’ve got to think of other ways to get past them.” However Bale has an advantage that cannot be taught or worked on by his opposition. Blistering pace. His three goals and two assists against Inter were not the product of a piece of breathtaking skill or technique, just brutally electric pace. Coupled with the ability to produce an end product (something the equally quick Aaron Lennon and Bale’s old roommate Theo Walcott could learn from).
It is refreshing to see the approach Bale takes to the game; he is completely intoxicated by football. There are no late night trips to Chinawhite or a WAG girlfriend; there is a certain likeability to Gareth Bale. Even more so after the gracefulness he has shown after this rise into the upper echelons of the game. It is a welcome contrast to the shenanigans a certain Wayne Rooney took part in. Even when given a few days off and told to get away and recharge his batteries, Bale returned home to Cardiff to spend time with his family. Commenting that he couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of going abroad or to a regular footballer’s haunt such as Dubai.
This rise to superstardom could have never happened for Gareth Bale – who has suffered with injuries, bad form and general bad luck during his time at Spurs – if it wasn’t for an injury to Benoit Assou Ekotto late in January. Bale may well have spent the majority of 2010 on loan at Nottingham Forest and it is long forgotten that it took Bale 25 games until he appeared in a winning Premier League Game. Gareth Bale deserves the plaudits being thrown at him. He has truly been exceptional. Disregarding the fact he is still to get an assist in the Premier League this season. Clearly room for improvement…