Picking between Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo is like choosing between chocolate and ice cream. Who would turn down either?
Signing either one of the duo would represent the club's biggest ever transfer coup and a huge statement of intent from new manager David Moyes.
With that being said, let's look at the potential consequences of either coming to Manchester, and judge who might represent the better piece of business.
We kick things off with the Welsh wizard Gareth Bale. The man who’s seen to be an ideal transfer target for Moyes this summer and the natural successor to club legend and fellow countryman Ryan Giggs.
Manchester United have been interested in Bale since he his playing days at Southampton. After an unsuccessful quest for his signature in 2007 and a lack of talent on the flanks, Manchester United has renewed their interest in the player again this season.
But how would he fit at Old Trafford?
The 2013/14 season saw Gareth Bale evolve into more of a central figure at Tottenham. His position this season was essentially playing as forward due to a lack of consistent options up front at Spurs, but he was the X-factor they sorely needed down the wing.
In terms of the type of player he is now, under manager Andre Villas-Boas' tutelage, he’s an adroit threat through the centre of the park with an eye for goal. His finishing is as good any striker in the English game - scoring 21 Premier League goals this season.
His abilities are developing at a rate of knots and his potential is astonishing.
Should he move to Manchester United, Bale will most likely be utilised on the left-wing with Shinji Kagawa or Wayne Rooney looking most likely to operate the role of trequartista. This would be best shown in a contemporary 4-2-3-1 formation whereby Robin van Persie would lead the front-line with a trio of Bale, Rooney/Kagawa and Valencia behind.
Few players leave Old Trafford and still remain so fond in the hearts of Manchester United fans but Ronaldo was different. In his six-year spell spell at the club he became a legend and won some of football's most prestigious awards.
Real Madrid soon came crawling, snapping Ronaldo up for £80m in 2009. However, what was meant to be a boyhood dream for Ronaldo turned into more of a nightmare, with the Portugal winger becoming increasingly unhappy at the Bernabeu.
Rumours of a reunion have come thick and fast this summer with Manchester United reported to be interested in “bringing Ronaldo home”.
As a player Ronaldo’s style of play hasn’t really changed since his time at Old Trafford; he’s just more developed in every aspect of his game. He still maintains fantastic dribbling skills, has an incredibly powerful shot and has a knack for scoring direct fee-kicks. Ronaldo’s much more mature now than he was at Manchester United. He’s more physically adept and possesses a lot more power in his game.
Should Ronaldo return to Old Trafford with a move to United it’s certain a major shift in tactics would have to occur. Signing a player of Ronaldo’s quality means 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.
So how will Manchester United tactically utilise the Portuguese superstar?
The side would likely shift back to a 4-3-3, the formation which won Sir Alex Ferguson's side the Champions League in 2008. A side which would feature a back four with two relatively deep central midfield players and using an additional midfield player, with a fluid front three of Ronaldo, Rooney/Kagawa and Van Persie.
Due to the player's versatility and intelligence, anyone one of these three could play in each other’s position and they all could seamlessly change in and out of each other’s individual playing roles. Essentially giving Ronaldo, Van Persie and Kagawa/Rooney will be given free roles that allow them to roam in the attacking areas.
There’s no doubt in most fans mind Ronaldo is the better player, but Bale's potential is not to be ignored. Watching Bale reminds me of Ronaldo back in his Manchester United years and it's clear Bale models his game on the Portuguese superstar.
But deciding on who would be the better signing, or who would be the better fit is a tricky question.
Bale is the younger of the two and his salary would also be substantially less; plus he would slot seamlessly in to the current United and Moyes way of thinking.
Bale may not be quite the finished product Ronaldo is yet, but it should not be long before he is. Personally Bale is the better fit for me.
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