The last five times that the world football transfer record has been broken, it has been done so by Real Madrid.
In 2000 they took Luis Figo from Barcelona for €62 million. A year later current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane arrived from Juventus for €75 million. In 2009 Madrid broke the record twice in one year with the arrival of Kaka (€68 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 million). The current record of €100,800,000 belongs to Welshman Gareth Bale, who left Tottenham in 2013 to join Real.
The arrival of Bale, and his partnership with Ronaldo, led Madrid to their first Champions League final in twelve years just nine months later. In 2016 a Gareth Bale shot, coupled with a Fernando deflection, sent Los Blancos into their second final in three years. Despite struggling initially at Madrid, Bale has seemingly had a significant effect on the team. This said, it was Ronaldo’s hat trick in the quarter-finals against Wolfsburg that saved the ten-time winners from an embarrassing exit.
Ronaldo is undoubtedly the star among stars at Madrid. Ronaldo is the perennial fan favourite at the Bernebeu. Bale on the other hand, has enjoyed a less consistent relationship with Madrid’s followers.
At the beginning of the season, Madrid fans were asked to vote for their ideal starting line up. Predictably it was the Portuguese captain who amassed the most votes, 66,000. Other fan favourites were not far behind. Sergio Ramos earned 61,000 while Marcello and Toni Kroos came in over 65,000. Gareth Bale received just 38,000 votes, the lowest on the team. Bale’s total was a full 10,000 votes behind the next nearest outfield player Carvajal.
Yet statistically speaking, who is more valuable to Real Madrid; Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale?
In terms of goals scored, the winner isn’t difficult to foresee. Between La Liga and the Champions League Ronaldo has scored 1.04 goals per game. Bale has managed just 0.66 goals per game, yet has played fewer times this season. Champions League aside, on a per game basis the results are much closer. Bale has managed 0.86 goals per game while Ronaldo is just 0.05 goals per game ahead at 0.91.
Gareth Bale begins to show his worth a little further back from goal. The Welshman contributes 1.93 key passes per game compared to Ronaldo’s 1.22. Bale also reigns supreme when it comes to assists with 0.38 per game. Ronaldo manages just 0.33 assists for each game he plays.
Chances created is another category in which Bale streaks past the Portuguese. In the 22 games in La Liga that he has played in, Bale has created 49 chances, leaving him with a 2.23 average. Ronaldo has managed just one less but has played 12 games mores. This gives Ronaldo an average of 1.41.
Given the nature of his play, it is unsurprising that Ronaldo has taken more shots this season, 306 in total. Despite that the shot accuracy is identical between the pair. In La Liga both men have hit the target with just over half their efforts (51%). Bale is also more successful at taking players on, winning 56.73% of his take ons. Ronaldo’s number is significantly less at 41.67%.
Neither player has committed a defensive error that has led to a goal this season. Yet once again Bale leads the way in blocks and interceptions. Ronaldo does make more clearances than the Welshman however, contributing 0.46 per game to Bale’s 0.31.
All things considered, it seems that on a per game basis, Gareth Bale contributes more to Real Madrid. It seems unlikely however that fans will turn their backs on the Portuguese in favour of the Welshman.
Bale’s goal in the 2014 Champions League final is undoubtedly talked of less than Ronaldo’s hat trick against Wolfsburg. Also take ons, assists and key passes are far less likely to appear on YouTube highlight videos, meaning Ronaldo gains far more exposure. Overall Bale deserves more credit for his performances, yet it still appears unlikely that he will outshine his enigmatic team mate in the near future.
However, with Ronaldo now at 31 years of age and Bale only 26, perhaps things could finally shift in the years to come.