Bale will fail to meet expectations at Real Madrid next to Ronaldo

Kevin Connell

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The soccer transfer window has now come and gone, and many marquee players have, or soon will be, joining new clubs throughout Europe.

While there has been no shortage of big moves this summer, including Brazilian sensation Neymar’s transfer to FC Barcelona, I’m not sure any quite compare to the hype surrounding Real Madrid’s recent signing of Gareth Bale just days ago.

Bale, a 24-year-old winger who was named Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year with Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League in England last season, made the move to Real Madrid on a world-record transfer fee of €100 million or $132 million.

While no one doubts Bale’s talent and ability, the question many are asking remains the same: Is he really worth that much?

In the search to find an answer, many are using the Welsh international’s new teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo, as a measuring stick to determine his true value.

The thing with Ronaldo is that Madrid knew exactly what they were getting when they signed the former Manchester United player for a then-transfer fee record of $123 million in 2009 – a bona fide superstar.

After signing with United as a relatively unknown prodigy in 2003, Ronaldo quickly developed into a do-it-all player, with speed, skills and a goal-scoring ability that culminated with winning FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008.

Don’t get me wrong, Bale is a fabulous player, but in his six-year career with Tottenham, he was only really great last season when he almost single-handedly carried the club to a Champions League berth. Prior to that in as recently as 2009, Bale was considered a “flop” as a struggling left back and was nearly sold away by Tottenham for a mere €3 million.

A career-saving position change to left winger soon after proved to save Bale’s floundering career, but it also could make it stall again. Why? Cristiano Ronaldo.

Not only does Bale have a lot to live up to with Ronaldo as his teammate, but both just so happen to play the same position – left winger.

The obvious solution is to move Ronaldo – the more versatile player of the two – to more of a central role in the attack; however, Ronaldo has said he does not like playing the position, and, quite frankly, his talent is not maximized while playing there.

“Cristiano needs to play in the position that he wants to,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said, following a preseason match in early August. “I will not change his position because he is comfortable in his usual position. He is the one who has to choose where he plays on the pitch.”

It would be foolish for Madrid to upset their established star, who is still in the prime of his career, but, at the same time, you now have to play this new guy because of the amount of money spent on him.