Would Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo Fit Better at Old Trafford?

Max TowleAnalyst IJune 24, 2013

New Manchester United boss David Moyes' current preoccupation seems to be in signing Barcelona's talented midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

With a price tag of £17 million, as reported by The Guardian, who could object?

If the deal does come off this week, it is unlikely to be the Red Devils only spending of the summer.

Besides, the transfer market is yet to open and there are bigger fish left to catch.

Two of the hottest properties on the transfer market are Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, two players heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford.

British tabloid The Sun recently claimed the Red Devils "are ready to smash the world transfer record to prove there is life after Alex Ferguson."

"The Glazers will hand new boss David Moyes more money than ever before to land Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale."

The prospect of an £85 million transfer to sign either superstar is an appetising one for fans of United, even if its plausibility remains doubtful.

This article will look at the potential ramifications from either coming to Manchester, and judging who might represent the better piece of business.

Gareth Bale

On the face of it, Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale seems like the perfect Manchester United player.

A flying Welsh winger developed in the Ryan Giggs vein who has now modeled his game on former Red Devils Cristiano Ronaldo.

United tried to sign him when he left Southampton, but had to watch in agony as he developed into a world-class attacking midfielder over the past few seasons.

In terms of the type of player he is now, under manager  Andre Villas-Boas' tutelage, he is an adroit threat through the middle.

His run of games essentially playing as forward may have been primarily due to a lack of consistent options up front at Spurs, but he was an X-factor they sorely needed down the stretch.

Like Ronaldo, Bale's long-term future should be through the middle, getting as involved in his team's attacking football as possible.

His finishing is as good as most strikers in the game, and his playmaking abilities are developing at a fast rate of knots.

But how would he fit at Old Trafford?

David Moyes has Shinji Kagawa to play the trequartista position. If he were to sign Gareth Bale, the Welshman would likely see more playing time on the left flank.

This would not be such a bad thing. Ashley Young, the side's current No. 1 choice on the left wing, does not seem to have the natural ability to cut it at the highest level.

With Bale on one side of midfield, and an in-form Antonio Valencia on the other, opposition full-backs would shake in terror at the prospect of facing United.

Moyes has always shown a propensity for fully utilising the flanks, creating mismatches with attacking full-backs, Bale would be at home playing in his system.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Then there is the prodigal son, the man who is remembered as a true legend by the Old Trafford faithful, Cristiano Ronaldo.

There is always the possibility that he is using the rumours surrounding a possible return to United to squeeze more money out of Real Madrid, but he seems to have kept a genuine affinity for his old club.

He is not really a different player from that who left Manchester in 2009, he is just better in every way.

If the dream transfer were to take place, there is no way he would be best utilised playing as a traditional winger.

With Robin van Persie like a barnacle in the first team, he would see little playing time as a lone forward either.

No, if Ronaldo were to move to United, a major shift in tactics would have to occur.

The side would likely have to shift back to a 4-3-3, the formation which won Sir Alex's side the Champions League in 2008.

A rotating attacking trident of Ronaldo, Van Persie and a third player, likely Valencia or new recruit Wilfried Zaha or even Wayne Rooney, is an exciting prospect.

Ronaldo would have to be given the opportunity to wander across the pitch in search of the ball. He could not do this in the 4-2-3-1 for it would leave gaping holes and an exposed Patrice Evra or Rafael.

If you are going to sign someone like Ronaldo, you have to shape your entire team around him. This is not suggesting the player is bigger than the club, only that this is how you get the best out of your biggest assets.

You do not want to leave him stranded on the wings.


Naturally, asking who would be the better signing between Bale and Ronaldo is like comparing ice cream and chocolate. Who would turn down either?

Either would represent the biggest coup in the Red Devils' transfer history, and go a long way to ensuring domestic and potentially European dominance for years to come.

But deciding who would be the better signing, or who would be the better fit is a tricky question.

I feel like betraying a United legend by suggesting this, but my answer to the above leans in the direction of Gareth Bale.

This is not to disparage Ronaldo, quite a few United fans would shed tears were he to return, myself included.

Bale may not be quite the finished product Ronaldo is yet, but it should not be long before he is.

He is younger (23 to 28), his salary would be considerably less, and he would slot right in to the current United and Moyes way of thinking.

But again, who would turn down either?

Who would be the better fit at United, Bale or Ronaldo?