While it would be unfair to liken Gareth Bale to a bounding Alsatian (or would it?), he certainly does seem to have adopted some of Cristiano Ronaldo's physical traits since joining the World Player of the Year at Real Madrid.
The hair, the perma-tan, the swerving free-kicks... but perhaps the most startling new-found similarity is the Welshman's musclebound new physique.
Here is Bale during his time at Spurs:
Just over a year later, and this is what the former Southampton trainee looks like:
Predictably, Bale's rippled new torso led to gags and, in some cases, conspiracy theories on the internet.
— Fantasy League (@fantasyleague) August 8, 2014
But let's take a step back and think about what may have prompted this metamorphosis.
Bale's main problem over the years has been his fitness. In part that came down to Premier League opponents kicking lumps out of the flying Welshman. But many of his periods on the sidelines were on account of muscular injuries, ligament strains, hamstring strains.
So, it figures that an intensive strengthening programme would reduce the risk of Madrid's prize signing picking up these injuries. And it's not exactly rocket science - hard work in the gym, a protein rich diet and eventually he will reap the rewards.
Remember that Bale was a rugby player as a youth, so he certainly has the natural build to acquire muscle.
A possible negative outcome of such a transformation is that increased bulk can have a negative impact on agility and flexibility. But not always. So let's see how he fares in the new season before drawing any judgements.
One thing's for certain though - Cristiano has a new rival in the underwear modelling stakes, although it's doubtful Bale would engage in such frivolity.
- Gareth Bale
- Real Madrid
- Cristiano Ronaldo