Madrid Swaps Creativity for Production in Choosing Bale over Ozil
With hours left in the transfer window, Real Madrid announced the highly anticipated signing of Welsh winger Gareth Bale for a world record fee. Fans had differing views on the transfer, but the crowds erupted when Bale took the stage, kissed the badge and spoke a bit of Spanish to his newest fans.
Then another headline came in and upstaged Bale's signing: Mesut Ozil was moving to London to play for Arsenal.
I was appalled. Unless you've lived under a rock for the last three years, you are familiar with Ozil's work. Since 2010, Ozil has more assists for club and country than any other top league player. More than Messi, more than Iniesta, more than Mata and more than Ribery. I could drool over the young German's play all day.
When it comes to Madrid, the main man is obviously Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ozil assisted more Ronaldo goals in his time in the Spanish capital than Xavi and Iniesta assisted Messi. Wrap your head around that.
When Isco arrived from Malaga, Ozil saw his playing time drop and saw his favorite position given away to a less experienced newcomer. When Bale was announced, Ozil knew his situation would only become worse.
And so he left and become Arsenal's record signing.
Now the question is, where does that leave Madrid? A playmaker shorter and a goal-getter better. Are they better off now, or worse?
That's not an easy question to answer. One of my chief complaints about the Bale transfer has been that his arrival would result in too any players for too few spots. Ozil's transfer makes that less of an issue, most certainly, but it puts Madrid in a tight spot.
Isco looks set to be Madrid's new playmaker. In his first few games, he's been fantastic and has actually outshone Ozil so far this season. Carlo Ancelotti clearly has a lot of faith in the youngster, and if he continues to play at or around this level, Ozil will be forgotten quickly.
And if he fails, well, then Madrid as to look toward their record investment.
Will Bale's production offset Ozil's absence?
Bale is not a creator, but that doesn't mean he can't be productive. One of the Welshman's greatest strengths last season was his ability to make something out of absolutely nothing. He garnered international attention as he continued to score clutch goals without any help from his teammates. He has goals in him, not as many as Ronaldo, but definitely enough to be the club's second highest goalscorer this season.
Madrid will need every one of those goals. So far this season, Los Blancos are undefeated but haven't been as dominant as their arch rivals, Barcelona. Ronaldo has one goal to Messi's five. Barcelona has Xavi, Inieista, and Neymar to Madrid's Modric, Isco, and Bale. Barca looks set to create far more, but Bale's ability might void the need for a playmaker of Ozil's talent.
Time will tell.
I fully expect Bale to see action in this weekend's clash against Villarreal. His performance will be the first taste fans have of what Real Madrid looks like with a starting 11 almost completely changed from the start of last season. Will Ozil be missed? Perhaps, but Bale deserves a chance to prove otherwise.
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