Tottenham: Why Gareth Bale Won't Live Up to the Hype If He Leaves Spurs
The hype around Bale is comical and this article will dispel some common misconceptions about his performances this season for THFC.
Misconception 1: Not Understanding Gareth Bale's Role
MISCONCEPTION: "Gareth Bale is scoring goals as a winger."
REALITY: He's a volume shooter with the freedom to do whatever he wants.
André Villas-Boas is using Gareth Bale in the Cristiano Ronaldo role—a position that enables the Welshman to forget about tactical discipline.
He isn't a left-back, a left-winger, a central attacking midfielder or a centre-forward—he has no set position.
Gareth drifts from flank to flank; has minutes as the centre-forward; and floats in between the opposing centre-back and deep-lying midfielder.
Look at the infographic and you'll see Bale's average positioning resembles that of a No. 9, as opposed to a left attacking midfielder.
Gareth is a quasi-forward, so it's fair game to compare his shooting efficiency to other forwards.
"But, he's played at left-back and as a left-winger for parts of the season!"
He didn't even play the entire game at LB during Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers.
Playing on the wings at the start of the season hasn't stopped him from being second only to Luis Suárez in shots per Premier League game (LS; 5.8 > GB; 4.8).
|Lionel Messi||39||5.4 ||3.6 |
|Cristiano Ronaldo||24 ||7.0 ||7.3|
|Zlatan Ibrahimović||22||4.9 ||5.3 |
|Luis Suárez||21||5.8 ||7.4 |
|Falcao||21||3.5 ||3.9 |
|Robin van Persie||19 ||3.5 ||5.2 |
|Edinson Cavani||18 ||4.1 ||5.5 |
|Gareth Bale||16 ||4.8 ||7.3 |
|Robert Lewandowski||16 ||3.4 ||4.5 |
|Stephan El Shaarawy||16 ||3.2 ||5.3 |
G = goal/s; SHPG = shots per game; SPG = shots per goal
Bale's SHPG (4.8) is higher than Falcao (3.5), RVP (3.5), Cavani (4.1), Lewandowski (3.4) and SES (3.2)—all of whom are significantly better finishers than the Spurs footballer.
And, Gareth's SPG—the best way to measure a forward's shooting proficiency—is wasteful.
It's down there with CR7 and Suárez, but the Welshman has only  scored 16 league goals, which doesn't justify his high volume shooting.
 the reason I say only is because he has taken 116 shots in league action; 35 more than Falcao, who has netted five more league goals than GB.
Misconception 2: Gareth Bale's Completeness
MISCONCEPTION: "Gareth Bale is a complete footballer."
REALITY: Has avoided tackling this season and shoots more times than he passes.
We've established that Gareth Bale is an inefficient goalscorer, but why do some people think he's a complete footballer?
For him to be complete, he would have to: score loads of goals, consistently create goals for his teammates and win back the ball.
Gareth is ranked 963rd in Europe's elite leagues when it comes to tackles per game.
"Well, that's pretty darn good for someone whose main priority is to score goals!"
He's a former left-back, so his TPG should still be a lot higher than 1.0, which is the same output as Dimitar Berbatov.
Here are some attacking players whose TPG is way better than Gareth: Roberto Firmino (2.8); André Ayew (2.3); Oscar (2.3); Pedro León (2.2); Koke (2.2); Martin Harnik (2.1).
How good is Gareth's passing? Good enough to lead Tottenham Hotspur in shots created per league game (2.4).
Jermain Defoe's finishing has been horrifically bad (9.9 shots per Premier League goal) and Emmanuel Adebayor hasn't played well, but you can't use that as an excuse to explain Bale's one league assist from 630 passes this season.
In the UEFA Europa League, the difference between his shots taken and shots created is +1.3 shooting, compared +2.4 shooting in league-play.
Is it a mere coincidence that he has three assists in the UEL with a less proportion of shots-taken to shots-created number than in the EPL? Of course not.
Bale needs to find that happy medium in terms of scoring and creating goals.
He's NOT a complete footballer when he has these noticeable flaws in his game.
Misconception 3: Gareth Bale Is the Best U-23 Attacker in Europe
MISCONCEPTION: "Gareth Bale is the best attacker 23 years or under."
REALITY: Not better than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Müller, Stephan El Shaarawy, or Marco Reus this season.
Mario Götze and Koke (neither will be used in the statistical analysis table below) may not have as many total league goals as Bale but they're both more all-rounded players than the Welshman.
Koke wins back the ball 3.2 times per league game; 0.8 times more than Gareth.
The Spaniard is also a more natural facilitator, completing a higher percentage of passes whilst creating more shots per game (2.5) for his teammates.
Götze is more calm in front of goals (4.8 SPG; that's the amount of shots Bale takes per league game!), an undoubtedly craftier dribbler (MG; 3.0 DPLG > GB; 2.1), and provides more goals for his teammates than Gareth (MG; six assists > GB; one assist).
Statistics aside...Jack Wilshere is a superior player to Bale (though, that's a subjective view).
What you can't argue against is the objectivity of the numbers.
"Why don't you combine the UEFA Europa League with Gareth's league numbers?"
Pierre-Emerick hasn't played European competition this season.
Thomas, Stephan and Marco play in the UCL; a vastly more competitive tournament than the UEL.
|PEA (23) ||22 ||15||6.1 ||7 ||1.0 |
|Müller (23) ||20 ||11||5.4 ||9 ||2.2 |
|SES (20) ||20 ||16||5.3 ||4 ||1.7|
|Reus (23) ||19 ||11||6.0 ||8 ||2.0|
|Bale (23) ||17 ||16||7.3 ||1 ||2.4|
(age); TG = total goals; G = goal/s; A= assist/s; SCPG = shots created per game
Why Gareth Bale Should Stay with Spurs
André Villas-Boas has built the team around Gareth Bale, who enjoys the privileges of not needing to track back and having the capacity to roam around the football field.
Gareth won't receive the same benefit at Real Madrid or Barcelona.
The latter are planning to sign Neymar (per The Guardian), so unless the Welshman wants to be shackled, don't go to Barça.
David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimović weren't given the autonomy afforded to Lionel Messi, why would Bale any different?
At Real, there's a guy called Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 60 and 53 goals in his last two seasons—he's on his way to 50 goals this season (already has 40).
How about Bayern Munich?
David Alaba, who is already a better left-back than Bale ever was, could take up the mantle from Franck Ribéry in several years time.
Before you tell me how stupid that is...
Keep in mind that David is a make-shift defender (turning out to be a wonderful LB) and he's shown the capability of being a threat in the attacking third i.e. a brace against Schalke.
He is nimble and efficient with his passing and still only 20 years old.
Xherdan Shaqiri is another option, even though he's more of a threat inside-out on the right.
If Barça sign Neymar, then Gerard Deulofeu may be willing to join Bayern with Pep Guardiola at the helm.
Eintracht Frankfurt's Bastian Oczipka, the left-sided Dani Alves, would be a more economically efficient transfer target than Gareth.
Oh, and Die Bayern have one of the best academies in the world...maybe a left-sided wunderkind will emerge in the next few years.
Three years can be an eternity in football—just ask Bale.
(From BBC Sport; December 22, 2009):
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has insisted Gareth Bale can fill the void left when Benoit Assou-Ekotto goes to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Bale had been linked with a move away from White Hart Lane in January, possibly to gain experience on loan, but that now seems unlikely.
(Per The Daily Mail; October 21, 2009):
Spurs flop Gareth could Bale out in January as Birmingham boss Alex McLeish eyes £3 million defender.
Wales international Bale has had a torrid time since arriving at White Hart Lane from Southampton two years ago and has made just one start in the Premier League this season.
(Via the Metro; February 9, 2009):
Wales manager John Toshack last night insisted Gareth Bale’s poor club form is not a worry to him ahead of tomorrow’s friendly with Poland.
The Tottenham left-back, who missed the second half of last season with a foot injury, has had a torrid time this term and often been a scapegoat for the struggling Premier League club’s inconsistent form.
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