Real Madrid: What Gareth Bale Is Really Worth Compared to Other Recent Deals
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Gareth Bale's transfer to Real Madrid has been a long time coming. Yet while the desire of those two parties to get together may have been strong, Tottenham Hotspur were not going to let their prize asset go without being substantially compensated.
That was a luxury for them, as Bale had three years left on his contract. Not to mention that he was an exceptional talent coming off a brilliant individual season.
Tottenham's money-making chances were helped by who they were doing business with too. Real Madrid had previously shown their capacity to spend with the world record transfer fees they paid for Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Given how much the La Liga giants wanted Bale, Spurs knew they could charge them a high price. They certainly did that, with BBC Sport reporting on Sunday that the Welshman went for a new record fee of £85.3 million, or 100 million euros.
Negotiations are finally complete and Real president Florentino Perez is the proud owner of his latest galactico. Now the football world is eagerly awaiting Bale's first involvement with his new club.
The 24-year-old will be eager to prove himself at the Bernabeu. Not least because his exorbitant price tag will mean he faces a daunting task in matching expectations amid almost constant comparisons to football's biggest names.
In his own team, Bale will have to prove himself in coexisting with the similarly styled Ronaldo. More pertinently in the context of this summer's transfer dealings, he has to live up to standards already set by a fellow new arrival.
Isco joined from Malaga for £26.5 million and has settled in immediately. The Spain Under-21 international can already claim an assist and three goals, two of which came in Real's 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao this past weekend.
Three years Bale's junior, Isco has not yet had a season as phenomenal as the former's 2012-13. But Bale didn't have one at 21 either.
Both have taken different paths. Most significantly, Bale had a year performing at a lower level with Southampton before he established himself in the top flight with Spurs.
The two seasons Isco has enjoyed as a regular starter have been highly impressive, though, and are in good company alongside the campaigns that made Bale's name in North London.
How Real boss Carlo Ancelotti incorporates two such talented attacking midfielders remains to be seen. Should he struggle, Bale will not be able to get away from facing direct comparisons to a player who cost substantially less than him.
Had Real not been subject to paying an inflated price for him, a more appropriate cost comparison for what Bale is worth might have been the players who rank just below him in this summer's most expensive acquisitions.
Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao each cost Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco £55 million and £53 million, respectively.
(Neymar's £50 million to Barcelona from Santos is somewhat comparable too. But the circumstances of that move are more unique.)
They were hardly cheap and were also sold to clubs with the financial muscle to spend so heavily on them.
As two leading lights of their former leagues (Serie A and La Liga), transfers were always going be expensive. But their respective costs were not out of line with the general trajectory of transfers over the last 15 years (bar the extraordinary £80 million Manchester United received for Ronaldo).
Lazio broke the £30 million barrier (each) for Christian Vieri in 1999 and then Hernan Crespo in 2000. Luis Figo joined Real Madrid for a little more than that before Zidane's move to the same club raised the bar substantially with a £45.7 million transfer fee. Kaka's move there took things beyond the £50 million mark.
Except for Ronaldo, and now Bale, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic's switch to Barcelona from Internazionale has since gone beyond £60 million (and that was a deal that also saw Samuel Eto'o part-exchanged).
Bale was a star of the Premier League and a talisman for his team too. Had he gone for a similar price to Cavani and Falcao, it would have been in keeping with the way the transfer market has developed.
As it is, he has become one of those rare footballing anomalies.
The glorious heights Bale reached in his six years at Tottenham proved he is a player in worthy company among the expensively acquired star names of his sport.
Transcending football to the degree he is regarded as being worth every penny of an £85.3 million transfer fee will require him going even further. That is going to take some doing.
Considering the bright starts the likes of Isco, Cavani and Falcao have gotten off to this season, Bale has some catching up to do too.
All contemporary transfer fees are from TransferMarkt.com.
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