Bale – Worlds most expensive footballer
It is a measure of the task Gareth Bale faces as he starts life at Real Madrid that his new team-mates seem far more upset that they have lost Mesut Ozil to Arsenal than they are thrilled by the arrival of another world record signing.
Never mind winning over the fans; it looks like the Welshman also has to convince the players that he is worth the price tag – or, more to the point, prove to them that the team is better with him in it instead of the brilliant German midfielder.
And then there is Cristiano Ronaldo. You can just see him eyeing Bale up and down and thinking: “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” It will be intriguing to see if Madrid change their free-kick policy in sight of goal, which in recent seasons has been quite simply that Ronaldo has taken the vast majority of them, whatever the distance and angle.
Common sense would suggest that the predominantly right-footed Ronaldo would take kicks from the left and the left-footed Bale would take them from the right, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Bale – who has wisely deferred to Ronaldo, calling him “The Boss” – is too good a footballer not to have a positive impact on Real Madrid, but you can see where the players are coming from when they complain about losing Ozil. Ronaldo referred to the high number of assists provided by his former team-mate last season and that sort of help is unlikely to be supplied by the new boy, who will have goal ambitions of his own.
It’s certainly not a like-for-like swop. Bale is versatile, but his list of attributes is more akin to Ronaldo’s, right down to a lethal free kick. It will be absolutely fascinating to see how manager Carlo Ancelotti makes it all work; if indeed he can to everyone’s satisfaction.
Coral have pitched Bale’s goal tally for the season at 16.5 (10/11 under and 10/11 over), while they go 10/1 that he outscores Ronaldo over the season – an unlikely scenario given that the Portuguese averages around a goal per game.
Personalities aside, how much difference will Bale make to Real Madrid and their two consuming passions; to finish above Barcelona in La Liga and their quest to win the Champions League for the first time since 2002?
Coral go 5/4 for La Liga behind 8/11 favourites Barcelona, while they are 5/1 shots for the Champions League behind their fierce Catalan rivals (4/1) and market leaders, Bayern Munich (100/30).
Written by Jon Freeman