Gareth Bale: Why Barcelona Would Be a Better Option Than Real Madrid
Tottenham's Gareth Bale is destined for bigger things.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas accepts this. He knows Bale is among the hottest commodities in football and Tottenham will inevitably relent to a hefty bid for their best player. It's a matter of when and where for the 23-year-old, not if.
It would be nice to experience other leagues and other cultures. I'm not afraid to go abroad. If the time comes and a team that's right comes in for me, then I’ll look at it seriously. I'll see what happens.
"If you said to any young player that you could play for Barcelona or Real would they turn it down? Probably not," said Bale in an interview with The Sun in April.
And with that, the two-footed question becomes this: Which would benefit most from Bale's signature? And which would serve his development best as footballer?
The answer to both is Barcelona.
Could Bale be adapted to play on the right? Quite possibly, but why buy a world-class player and ask him to do something other than what he does best?
What of Bale playing ahead of Coentrao and Marcelo, in the left-back spot behind Ronaldo? It's possible, but don't forget Coentrao represents a considerable investment by Madrid and is a player Jose Mourinho rates very highly.
Marcelo, meanwhile, is installed as Madrid's vice captain and would take some dislodging by Bale.
And then there's the continuity consideration. Nobody expects Mourinho to stay at Madrid much longer, which means Bale would be signing up for whatever the revolution that follows him is. Such upheaval might come at the cost of his confidence and his form.
At Barcelona, there are no such concerns. Tito Vilanova is Barca's long-term solution to the departure of Pep Guardiola, and the club's dynasty of success owes everything to their model of continuity from the youth ranks up.
Bale would be entering a family atmosphere at Barcelona. And he would be coming into a team that is crying out for his contribution, feeding off the best supply line in the world and playing alongside the game's best player in Lionel Messi.
The Telegraph are right in pointing out that Barca's tiki-taka approach would take some getting used to. But Bale's role would be to inject fire into Barcelona's play and allow them to vary their threat going forward.
Where would Bale fit best?
"The 4-3-3 tactical system allows wingers to do pretty much whatever they want—cut inside, shoot, cross—which is right up Bale's street, " says B/R's tactical expert Sam Tighe.
Cristian Tello has been used a few times by Vilanova in the winger role this season, but there's no doubting Bale represents a far more potent weapon in an advanced role.
That's not to say Barca don't have other options. Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas have both played to the left in the 4-3-3, but neither can offer up the kind of dynamic running and width Bale brings to the table.
Would Bale start every game for Barca? Perhaps not, but he'd get more opportunities to thrive than he would at Madrid, where his talents lend themselves to two positions—one of which is well stocked, the other is taken by Ronaldo.
When you factor in the relative workings of the two clubs, there's only one conclusion to draw on the matter. Bale's interests would be best served at Barcelona.
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