Is Gareth Bale worth the wages of his new contract?
There are times in life when you buy things for a surreal amount of money without being sure about whether it is actually worth it. When you purchase it, you know you are paying more than what its current worth is, but you are hoping that one day, your acquisition will be justified
Being rich has its problems; after all, there is an image to maintain, an aura of superiority to exude. Being rich, for Florentino Perez’s Real Madrid, is to make a statement. Hence, when Barcelona signed Perez’s much-coveted Neymar from Santos, it didn’t go down well with the construction magnate.
The response? Shattering the world record fee to land the then best player of the Premier League, Gareth Bale.
On the outset, Florentino Perez made it look he signed the Welshman to be the perfect partner for Cristiano Ronaldo. Within the mind of the president, though, he was settling a score with the Blaugranas.
Three years down the line, Gareth Bale has signed his first—and, perhaps, last—contract extension with Real Madrid. His wages, if reports are to be believed, it somewhere around €350,000-a-week mark after tax, making him the highest paid player in the world right now.
But is he really worth his wages?
Florentino Perez might have shrouded his mind with the belief that he did the better business by acquiring the former Tottenham Hotspurs star instead of Neymar, but one can sense the regret enmeshed deep down in his heart.
Right now, the Brazilian is a much better player than his Real Madrid rival. He has imprinted his game far better than the former Southampton starlet and is much more impactful. People might argue that Barcelona without Lionel Messi is ineffective, but much of Barcelona’s success in 2015 was down to the former Santos star.
In an ideal world, he might as well have won the Ballon d’Or for his performances that year. But this world is far from ideal—and Gareth Bale’s wages proof just that.
At the time of purchase, the Welshman wasn’t worth what was paid for him—and it was hardly his fault. However, fans hoped that he would go on to replicate Cristiano Ronaldo and do justice to every penny that the club spent for him.
But so far, despite some glimpses of astounding brilliance, he is yet to justify the price tag over his head. And the problem lies just there: glimpses.
How did we get here?
The 27-year-old has been guilty of not being consistent enough, not like the MSN trio of Barcelona or his partner, Cristiano Ronaldo. He goes through a period where those aforementioned glimpses happen frequently before dying down again for a considerable while.
All of this is not entirely his fault either, the club—read, Florentino Perez—holds much of the blame.
This is only his fourth year at the club and Bale has already been managed by three different managers. Playing in Carlo Ancelotti’s system is nothing like playing under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez. As if the change in system from Ancelotti to Benitez wasn’t too much to handle in itself, Zinedine Zidane’s appointment further aggravated the cause for Bale.
From playing exclusively on the right under the Italian to shifting to a free role under the current Newcastle manager to reverting back on the right wing, Gareth Bale has never really had much peace when finding a home on the pitch.
However, the ability to adapt is the sign of a truly world class player, something which we haven’t seen in the Welshman—at least not on a consistent basis.
His knock-the-ball-past-the-defender-and-run-towards-it dribbling style means that he can never truly be fully effective on the right since his close-control isn’t good enough. Zidane’s system has no place for a number 10, which renders the chance of Bale playing down the middle to null. And the left is occupied by Cristiano Ronaldo.
All these factors have played a significant role in the number 11 not reaching the phase which was expected from him. When he was signed from England, many saw a future Ballon d’Or candidate in him—and it has stayed the same way.
Where/when is his peak?
Even now, he is seen as a future Ballon d’Or winner. The scent emanated from such claims would make one believe that Bale is still a potential, when the truth is that he is 27 years old and is far away from being the best in the world.
With the recent extension, Bale will be here till he is 33 years old—unless he is sold off before that—by the time the contract expires. Given that blistering pace is the strongest part of his game, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that he has about 4 years of optimal football left in him. Hence, time is short.
The future that was promised with his signing has now come, but unfortunately for the Blancos, his impact hasn’t been even close to that of Cristiano Ronaldo, or even his long-time friend, Luka Modric. It seems as though the future is drowning in the ashes of the glorious past of the Welshman.
And only has a few years left to prove otherwise.