Cristiano Ronaldo's Legacy Would Strengthen from Partnership with Gareth Bale

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 18:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF reacts as he fail to score during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 18, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

One of the best things that could happen to Cristiano Ronaldo is the arrival of Gareth Bale.

The 24-year-old's move to Real Madrid appears to be nothing more than a formality. Marca reported that a €99 million deal was in place to purchase the Tottenham Hotspur star, and he would earn a whopping €10 million a year (h/t ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan). also posted a picture on Twitter that shows what appears to be a stage being erected at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Now that Bale's arrival is essentially imminent, you can start to really think how he'll fit into the current Madrid side.

Carlo Ancelotti has a lot of work on his hands in trying to placate the club's stars while simultaneously ensuring Bale is a worthwhile purchase.

One of the biggest questions will be how he'll work together with Ronaldo. They're both used to being the key figure at their respective clubs, and now they'll have to adjust to losing some of that influence.

If the two have a fruitful partnership, it will get Madrid that much closer to "La Decima" and alter the career narrative of the Portuguese winger.

During his time at Real Madrid, he really hasn't had to deal with a star the size of Bale. Kaka came in on a massive fee, but his career has stalled ever since moving to the Bernabeu. Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Isco and Angel di Maria have all been quality players and big-name transfers, too.

However, their individual expectations paled in comparison to what kind of contribution the club will expect from Bale.

To complicate matters even more, the two are used to running up and down the left flank—and to great success. Bale moved toward the centre at certain points last season, but he's still more of a left-winger/midfielder than anything else.

Putting he and Ronaldo in the same team will be a tough adjustment for both players. If it works out, it will speak to the professionalism of the two.

That's the key for Ronaldo. There is a part of his legacy that will be tied together with this move.

For better or worse, he will always be compared to Lionel Messi. They're the two best players of their generation and two of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots.

The perception for more than a few fans is that Messi is the unselfish winner who never dives and plays the game the right way. Ronaldo is the preening self-absorbed star who's more worried about his hair and scoring goals than he is concerned about the results on the pitch.

While that perception is perhaps fair in some ways, it's more off-base than anything else.

Of course Ronaldo is selfish. He wouldn't be one of the best players in the world if he wasn't. He thinks he can win a match all by himself, and quite often, he's right. Lionel Messi has the same attitude. That's why it didn't work out with Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he was at Barcelona.

Ronaldo, like Messi, makes those around him better and is more than willing to involve his teammates in the attack.

What could the critics possibly say if Ronaldo and Bale jell and lead Madrid to success? The Portuguese star will have demonstrated that he's willing to sacrifice his goal totals and cede some power if it means his club will be better.

Buying Gareth Bale is a big gamble for Real Madrid. If it pays off, the club and its current star player will never be looked at the same again. And that's a great thing.