It’s funny that for the longest time, football fans across England scoffed at the illustration of Bale as a superstar with charges of him being overrated and not all that. As last season unfolded and he continued his fine form – even improving under AVB – they reached for another weapon: his penchant for diving. They did the same thing to Cristiano Ronaldo: a one-trick pony, show-boater, diver, whiner, fancy-dan, nancy-boy, only scores so many goals because he takes all the free-kicks (yes, really). I had the same reaction to Ronaldo myself when, truth be told, I would have loved to have him at my club.
It seems that to be a player held in esteem by fans of other clubs, you must perform very well all the time. I’ve heard Man United and Liverpool fans and fans talk about the time they played Spurs and Gareth Bale was in the pocket of Rafael or Glen Johnson, which completely shot down this theory that Bale was any good. And did you know that Bale’s great performance in Milan in 2010 was only because he was up against the over-the-hill Maicon? I’m guilty too – I talk about the time Cristiano got played off the park by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Yeah, that really damaged his market value and ability to score more than a goal per game at Madrid, didn’t it?
Yes, there is much idiocy out there. We call it “trolling” but it’s really bullshit. If you can’t see the absolute class from players like Ronaldo or Bale or Suarez then you’re not really worth debating. I can question the value of Christian Benteke because he’s really only had a season to show it at the top level. Perhaps he’s brilliant. But perhaps he’s another Benjani or Andy Carroll.
But when the likes of Bale perform extremely well for three seasons and show a considerable array of talents (skill, pace, goal-scoring, intelligent runs, heading, crossing) you cannot question his ability with a straight face.
Bale isn’t as good as Messi or Ronaldo. I’m not sure anyone is suggesting he is. But he’s one of the top ten to fifteen players in the world and I don’t think there would be too many credible people arguing with that assertion.
On that basis, he’s worth £80m. In fact, he’s pretty much invaluable to Spurs because, even with all that money in the bank, they are not going to replace him. There’s no one as good as Bale who will score over 20 goals from midfield next season, that is going to join a team in the Europa League.
Bale will be a big loss to Spurs if that’s how this media-driven saga plays out. And one way or the other, as soon as he has a few poor games we’ll no doubt hear about how rubbish he is.