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Gareth Bale: Not World Class Yet

Gareth Bale is quickly establishing himself as the sweetheart of English football. In his two appearances against the European champions Inter Milan, he has amassed three goals, two assists, two man of the match performances, and has more than doubled his transfer valuation. So good have his showings been that the mention of his name on Tuesday night was almost always followed with the words “is world-class”.

Harry Redknapp rightly was full of praise for his left winger. “He’s against a right-back who is rated as the best right-back in the world and what he’s done to him over the last two games is amazing.” Naturally that would lead some to believe Bale to be the best left winger in the world. Yet in the Premier League this season Bale hasn’t always had the better of those he’s faced. Manchester United and Rafael Da Silva managed to restrict Bale to only one notable chance at Old Trafford, the young Brazilian forcing him inside onto his weaker right foot and making him pull his shot wide. In fact, although Bale has been ever-present for spurs this campaign he has only found the net in one of their ten matches, scoring twice against Stoke City.

But goals are not what Bale’s game is all about, he ran rings around the Inter defenders, and the assist for Pavlyuchenko’s goal highlighted all that is brilliant about the Welshman’s game. It was nearing the end of the game, yet Bale was still able to showcase his blistering pace and tremendous stamina. He realizes he doesn’t need to perform step-over after step-over to beat his man, instead he knocked the ball past the Inter defenders safe in the knowledge that he would be the one to latch onto it. After breaking free down the flank he centered the ball perfectly, as he had done twice already in the night, leaving the easiest of finishes for Pavlyuchenko to wrap up the victory. Yet in the Premier League he has only managed to supply one assist.

Bale certainly looked like a world beater at White Hart Lane on Tuesday, and it’s hard to think of a team he wouldn’t benefit when he is in top form, but it is important not to get carried away. Leo Messi has 41 goals in his last 42 La Liga appearances, Cristiano Ronaldo has 38 in 38. These of course are extreme examples, but they are the records of the last two world player’s of the year. It surely must be clear to see that Bale is not at their level yet. If we look at this season’s Premier League then Chelsea’s Malouda with 7 goals sticks out as perhaps the best midfielder so far, or maybe Manchester United’s Nani with 4 goals and 8 assists. Bale was brilliant against Inter, he is a tremendous talent and a breath of fresh air, Redknapp has spoke of how when he let Bale have some time off to go on holiday and refresh he went back to his mum’s house in Cardiff, but he is not yet world class, at least not on a consistent basis.

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  1. Jack

    3 November, 2010 at 13:27

    Gareth Bale has been fantastic for the whole of 2010. Scored winners against Aresnal and Chelsea in a week, got four assists in the home leg against Young Boys, go a goal and an assist against FC Twente, an assist against Bremen.
    He is already consistent.

  2. spurs-scott

    3 November, 2010 at 13:35

    I dont agree wth this article…Bale has performed amazingly since january..He was great against arsenal and chelsea last year. this is not just a 2 match situation..I also dont think you can just measure someone by the number of goals they score or assists they make. That is obviously a big part, but there is more to it than that

  3. Nick

    3 November, 2010 at 13:42

    this article just proves that the author has no idea what they are on about, being a top world class winger is not all about goals and assists its is about providing width and penetration down the flanks and no one has been doing that better then bale in the EPL not just this season but much of last season as well, and if he had a better men up top that assist tally would be in double figures on just crouch’s missed chances alone. ronaldo and messi cut in alot more playing much more like a supporting forward then a true winger like bale, you can not compare the way they play with bale. to look at just the one isolated game against manchester united as evidence that bale isnt one the top left sided wingers is just rubbish, everyone has a off day now and again and manu did a great job taking away the space behind the defensive line and crowding him off the ball in every other game this year he has been in the top 3 players on the pitch from either side. bale now attracts defenders like flies pulling opposition players from all over the pitch and giving VDV and Modric all the space in midfield, as well as allowing lennon to benefit from all the attention being focused on the other side of the pitch. Bale’s direct style and crossing ability, not to mention the confidence and swagger he gives the rest of the spurs team, most definitely make him a world-class winger in every sense of the world, and just about every team in the world, including Barcelona who play messi on the left, are interested in him, if that doesn’t tell you he is world class then i suggest you start looking for a new job.

  4. tony

    3 November, 2010 at 14:21

    its difficult to say world class.yet in 2 games against a world class team ,hes torn them to ribbons.3 goals ,2 assists out of 6 goals.we agree to differ.compared to the above examples,not hes not there yet.its only recently hes had the chance to show his talent.lets review at the end of the season.hes now the most wanted player in world the end of the season we will know if this is justified.hes still great in my book.

  5. Peter McCarthy

    3 November, 2010 at 14:23

    I’m often confused as to what World Class actually means. Is a player World Class because the media say so or is it fans of the team the player plays fr that determine. The media (Sports journalists) are only fans who have a good command of English, they’re no more experts than you or I. Ex players and players are so divided in their opinions that they cite Rooney as World Class, yet a five year old watching the world cup would disagree entirely with that. According to Newcastle fans I’ve heard on the radio Andy Carroll is World Class, so what exactly is this accolade because I’ve raved about Bale since first seeing him in a white shirt, but to me he’s still in the potential bracket, whereas players such a Messi are without dispute able to play in any side, anywhere in the World, but again on the world stage itself, you cant ignore the fact that both he and Ronaldo were flops!. How about this, Bale played really well and is becoming a really decent player for Spurs, he and the rest of his team mates played exceptionally well against the current European champions!

  6. Walkerboy

    3 November, 2010 at 15:12

    Comparison with Messi & Ronaldo is pointless. Ronaldo & Messi are very similar to each other, but also very different from Bale.
    Bale is an out and out winger – he stays wide, providing the ammunition, only cutting inside when he is forced to.
    Messi & Ronaldo are pretty much 2nd strikers, similar if anything to Rafael Van der Vaart. All 3 play in “free” roles, letting them drift from left to right to centre.

    Bale is far from the finished article, but if this is what we are seeing from him at 21 years old, then we can be excited at his future.

  7. jack

    4 November, 2010 at 16:45

    After reading the comments, and then taking a look at the article again,I can accept that I perhaps didn’t give enough attention to the other aspects of Bale’s game that make him a great winger, and also didn’t fully explain the use of of those stats.

    With respect to Nick’s comment, I slightly resent the accusation that I have don’t have a clue what I’m going on about, but i as i’ve said above i do accept that the piece could be read in a way that seemed as if all i thought mattered was goals scored and assists. I’d hope that when people read this they can see that I to am a big fan of Gareth Bale and many aspects of his game, and of course saw his two performances against Inter as something very special indeed. However, you say that highlighting his performance against Man Utd as an example of not being world class is “rubbish, everyone has an off day now and again”, but surely in the same way everyone can have an extremely good day. I choose the United game as it happened to be the most recent, but people weren’t calling Bale world class after the Everton match, or indeed any of the other Premier League matches this season (possibly with the exception of Stoke.)

    The purpose of writing this wasn’t any sort of sensationalism. All I was trying to do was bring a little perspective to the table. Whilst comparisons with with Messi and Ronaldo may be seen by some as pointless, I was not the person to initiate these. After Tuesday night many fans and even some pundits were comparing Bale to the worlds elite. A friend of mine claimed he wouldn’t swap him for Messi, and this is where the idea for this piece started. To me it felt that on the back of two, albiet indeed world class performances, Bale was being heralded as the best player on the planet, which in my opinion he is not. He is an extremely talented player who clearly can put in exceptional performances, and on his day, as i stated in the article, you would put him in any starting eleven. I just felt like offering a view of him that differed to that of the bandwagon.

  8. hb&df

    5 November, 2010 at 09:23

    nice try!! but i know jack (author) and know you are an avid man united fan
    so your views are just slightly biased

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