Having recently watched the BBC documentary 'Gareth Bale - The Real Deal', and having been an avid follower of Premier League football long before the - then - teenage Welsh full back joined Tottenham Hotspur, I began to wonder - is Bale really worth his reported £85m transfer fee?
And was this documentary an accurate representation of Bale - the man, and Bale - the player?
At £10m for a player who was considered among the best prospects in his position (left full back), somewhat of a free kick specialist, a full Wales international at only seventeen years of age, and would later leave for over £80m, Spurs felt they had a bargain on their hands.
Despite going a record twenty-four games without a win in his early days at Tottenham, Bale found consistent form once he was moved further up the pitch to the left wing, and finally 'announced' himself onto the world stage with a hat-trick in the Champions League against Inter Milan.
Having watched that particular game, this GMS contributor felt that the performance from Bale was completely over-hyped, and blown out of all proportion and context. All evening, his performance consisted of booting the ball down the line as hard as he could, and chasing after it knowing he was quicker than a sluggish, ageing Inter Milan team. The defending from 'La Beneamata' players was poor, no way would he have been given quite as much space in a Premier League match.
Unfortunately for Bale, despite the occasional goal from long range, his 'kick and run' style of play seems to be the only thing he can actually do with some success on a football pitch. At £85.3m, you would expect to be signing a footballing superstar, a complete player. As it is, Bale is far too one dimensional to be considered 'the complete player'.
Something that really started to annoy throughout this documentary was the assertion that Bale (off the pitch) was still a very ordinary, down to earth 'lad'. However, though I do not know the player personally, what has been reported throughout the media gives me sufficient reason to doubt this claim.
The first incident which gave reason to suspect Bale had been glossed over by the positive attention surrounding his performances on the pitch, was when he made steps to trademark the heart shaped celebration. In a clear attempt to create his own 'Brand Bale', and considering he certainly wasn't the first to celebrate in this fashion, this doesn't seem like the actions of a typical, everyday, grounded Welshman.
Neither does completely disrespecting the club that had the faith to sink £10m on signing him from Southampton, and sticking with him through a number of average (at best) displays at the beginning of his Spurs career,. He did this by refusing to return to Tottenham to force through a move; nor does reportedly asking for a £300,000-a-week contract.
When Bale rejected the chance to join heavyweights Manchester United for the chance of more regular first team football, the claims of Bale being a 'typical, down to earth Welshman' seemed spot on. Too many times, past and present, have we seen young talented players choose the option of a glamorous big name team & a hefty wage salary, over the opportunity to develop themselves further, playing week in week out in one of the toughest leagues in the world. However, it seems the player has begun to believe in his own hype, and has allowed a growing ego get the better of him.
Only time will tell if £85m was too much for a one dimensional winger. Bale could prove his doubters wrong, however he could end up being an expensive flop - another British 'superstar' who failed to make the grade abroad. Personally, I wouldn't at all be surprised if we were all talking about his cut price return to the Premier League in a few years time.
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