With only a few days left in the transfer window, all eyes are anxiously and expectantly watching for Real Madrid to announce the signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur. For months reports have been claiming the transfer will be for a record amount, shattering the amount the Spanish capital paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
That should raise some eyebrows.
Gareth Bale is not a bad player. But is he Ronaldo? No. Is he close to Ronaldo? In short, no. If you examine the players closely, you can draw comparisons. Both are physically dominant and super athletic. Both score more than their fair share of wonder goals. Both have attracted attention for their free-kicks and impressive dribbling. That's about it though.
The truth of the matter is Bale is eons short of Ronaldo's ability. At 24 years old, Bale had his best goalscoring campaign yet, netting 26 times in 44 games across all competitions. That's by no means shabby, but hardly among the world's elite.
By comparison, in his first year at Madrid when he was just 24, Ronaldo scored 33 times in just 35 games. The next season he went on to score 53 times in 54 games. Can you expect anything like that from Bale?
Bale is fantastic but his game is ultimately limited. He is largely dependent upon his left foot to score and create. Technically, he leaves a lot to be desired, especially for a midfielder playing in Spain. His vision and passing are far from world-class. He is just fast and strong. In the 2011-12 season, he only scored nine times in the Premier League. The season before that, just seven.
Ronaldo, in his final season with Manchester United, scored 18 league goals. The year before, 31, tied for most ever in a single English season. Comparing Bale to Ronaldo, it's hard to even consider Bale a real goal-getter, and the fact he doesn't have many assists to his name really has to make you wonder what he adds to Madrid.
But that's not the only problem with bringing in the Welshman.
The question that should be on every Real Madrid fan's mind is: Where will he play? Having moved from left-back to left wing to central attacking midfield, Bale clearly can adapt to many roles. That doesn't change the fact that at every position, he'll be facing fierce competition.
Bale won't take the left wing over Ronaldo, that much seems certain. In the central role, he must compete with Mesut Ozil, who is arguably the world's best playmaker. Also in the central role is new signing Isco who has been brilliant in his appearances so far, and Kaka who will likely be the odd man out.
On the right side of the field he again faces Isco (arguably Madrid's MVP at this point in the season) and Angel Di Maria, who is a workhorse and is a favorite of Ronaldo. Bear in mind Bale has not played from the right side often.
At striker, the position I think Bale will likely end up, he will compete with Karim Benzema, a veteran of Madrid who is a known goalscorer, and Alvaro Morata, a youngster with loads of potential and promise. While in the striker role many might view him as a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain, the biggest problem is the message it sends.
Madrid's academy is one of the best in the world. It produces incredible talents that the club always seems to miss. The latest was Daniel Carvajal, who, the season after leaving Madrid, went on the be the Bundesliga's right-back of the year. Luckily, Los Blancos had a buy-back clause in his transfer.
Who are the next players Madrid are likely to miss out on with Bale's imminent arrival? Morata has looked fantastic in his chances this season and even scored twice in a friendly against Deportivo this week.
Jese Rodriguez, the most heralded star to emerge from the academy in years, is a winger drawing comparisons to Ronaldo, and with good reason. In the games I've seen him play, his technical ability and passing is incredible, not to mention his dribbling and shooting. At four years younger than Bale, he might just have a higher ceiling. With the Welshman's signing, though, Morata and Jese will be left in the cold.
For as long as Bale has been seriously linked with Madrid, rumors about Morata and Jese have been piling up. It has been reported Jese or Morata will be headed to Tottenham are part of the deal. With the €100 million (or more) price tag already set to Bale, adding Jese or Morata would simply be highway robbery.
Will Bale be a good player for Madrid? I don't doubt he will. I don't doubt he will earn a starting spot and impress. But he'll never live up to his price tag or the damage he is about to deal to the squad.
Bale's transfer, sadly, seems to be Florentino Perez's response to Barcelona's capture of Neymar. It's silly. It's juvenile. It's going to be disastrous.