Pitchside Europe

Is Gareth Bale really worth the money?


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Real Madrid have reportedly agreed a fee of £93 million with Tottenham for Gareth Bale.

There is no doubt that Welsh wizard Bale is a fantastic player with a great attitude who can only get better.

He terrifies opponents with his pace and strength, scores fantastic goals both from open play and set-pieces, and – having originally been a left-back – can operate anywhere across the front line.

In terms of current quality and record, Bale is already up there with the big movers this summer, such as Radamel Falcao (£51m) and Edinson Cavani (£55m), and is a bigger draw than James Rodriguez (£37m).

And with time on his side (his 24 years include a couple of seasons in the wilderness under Harry Redknapp) Bale will surely develop into one of the world’s finest players at Real.

But is Bale really twice the player the £49m Neymar is? Can he be valued at two 2001-era Zinedine Zidanes?

The ‘galactico’ prices that Madrid are willing to pay for their marquee signings have a method to their madness – it is estimated that shirt and merchandise sales alone recouped the £80m outlay on Cristiano Ronaldo within two seasons.

But Bale – for all his ability – is not Ronaldo, even if he does end up matching his antics on the pitch.

Ronaldo, like David Beckham before him, is a photogenic, media-friendly soccer stud (the Americanised term is used deliberately). He shifts units outside the traditional realm of Madrid’s support; he is a mainstream celebrity with the playboy lifestyle to boot.

Bale, meanwhile, says little outside his post-match duties, does not date Russian supermodels, does not sport a shiny tan, and is unlikely to publish an unintentionally hilarious biography in pictures.

Bale’s potential on the pitch is limitless, but his revenue potential is not. Real are likely to finish first or second in La Liga whatever happens; they will eat up the lion’s share of Spain’s top-heavy private TV cash alongside Barcelona.

Bale can fire them to Champions League success, sure, and with that an additional £10-20m in prize money. But Real are already a global superbrand so there will be little impact on their overall revenue stream from sponsorship, merchandise and TV subscriptions.

So why push the boat out for Bale? Club president Florentino Perez’s ‘galactico’ policy made him popular with fans, but Real’s dip in form and dressing room problems saw him resign in 2006.

He was back soon afterwards but, with Real having not won a Champions League in over a decade, time is running out.

The signing of Bale reduces the team’s reliance on Ronaldo, and if they win the Champions League, will keep Perez in charge. It’s a big risk, but one Perez sees as worth taking. Note his presence back-left in both pictures below.

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So is Bale worth the money? The views from our football experts in our offices around Europe are mixed to say the least…



Ivan Castello (Spain) – Yes, of course. Real Madrid, the best football club of the last century, are the trend-setters with their buys. Ronaldo (£80m), Kaka (£56m), Zinedine Zidane (£53m) and Figo (£45m) – all world records at the time. Perez may decide Bale is worth the money – besides being an explosive player, he will be promoted worldwide with tours, t-shirts and TV rights. The Anglophone market is decisive, as Florentino knows well. Bale is the new galactico. Welcome!

Thomas Janz (Germany) – No. I once spoke to Louis van Gaal when Chelsea were linked with a £40m move for Bastian Schweinsteiger. He said: "Boy, believe me, not one single player in the world is worth 50 million euros. We won the UEFA Cup with Ajax in 1992 with Dennis Bergkamp, who then left. In 1995 we won the Champions League without Bergkamp. There is not one player you cannot replace."

Michael Wollny (Germany) – No-one is worth more than 50m euros in this perverted transfer market. It’s about vanity. Real think they have the biggest penis in world football, and act accordingly. Real have spent millions for years on these galacticos, and have won nothing in Europe. Maybe they should focus on themselves over the transfer market.

Desmond Kane (Scotland) - No. It is a nonsensical price tag even in football’s vomit-inducing world of excess, but more so when you consider Falcao cost £51m and Cavani £55m. If Real Madrid are serious about spending such a backbreaking sum on one figure, the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy should have one response: "Here is my sort code."

Vincent Bregevin (France) – No, because he has to prove himself at a top club before being worth that much. Real have already hundreds of millions of debts and this is risky.

Alessandro Brunetti (Italy) - No. What Bale has won in his career? Cristiano Ronaldo won the Premier League, Champions League and Golden Ball when he left United for Real.

Jimmy Ewertsson (Sweden) - No, because even though transfer sums these days have escalated, no-one is worth that kind of money – not even Bale, who still needs to build on his sensational last season in order to justify his reputation.

Igor Zelenitsyn (Russia) – Yes, because football’s pop stars should cost a lot.


What do you think? Is Bale worth £93m? Is he could enough for Real Madrid? Can Spurs manage without him? Have your say below!

By Reda Maher / On Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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