[published in July 2013]
By Rob Dore | Graph creator
During the summer of every odd-numbered year rumours of big-money moves fill the space real news occupies during the season. Most without foundation or logic.
Then sometimes an ill-advised tweet from a footballer pours a barrel load of accelerant on the fires of speculation. Like Cristiano Ronaldo’s unnecessary insistence that he has not signed a new contract with Real Madrid.
All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 13, 2013
To date the two biggest rumours concern Ronaldo and Tottenham Hotspur’s rising star Gareth Bale. Given the Welshman’s match-winning performances for the Londoners this season – it’s no surprise that he is being linked with a move away – most notably to Real Madrid.
A rumour which has been given legitimacy by these comments from the Spanish club’s president Florentino Perez:
For these players that generate and produce income, you can give your whole life. I don’t want to talk about Bale too much because Spurs are a friendly club and it would irritate them if we talked about him.
So is Gareth Bale worth £85m? A full £5m more than Real Madrid paid Manchester United for Ronaldo four years ago. Let us compare and contrast the two talented goal-scoring wingers who both made their club debuts at 17 – starting at club’s playing in what most would consider to be lesser quality leagues.
Bale for Southampton in the English Championship and Ronaldo for Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Here’s a graph which charts their goalscoring over the first 250 games of their club careers. Or in Bale’s case the first 248. Because that’s all he’s played so far.
Their trajectory is incredibly similar. Bale’s increase in goals per game over the last season coincides with the point in Ronaldo’s career when he developed from a talented – but largely frustrating winger – into a goalscoring machine. A machine which – since moving to Real Madrid – has churned out more than a goal every game. 201 goals in 199 games to be precise.
Few would argue the Portuguese attacker has proven to be worth the £80m Real Madrid paid Manchester United for him in 2009. However by the time he left United he had enjoyed three years during where he scored more than 20 goals a season. Bale has had just one – so far.
If the Welshman continues to follow Ronaldo’s upward trending graph line, then yes, he would be a bargain for £85m. Or at least good value. He’s still only 23 and already he has the star quality needed to generate revenue through shirt sales.
One swallow does not a summer make however and there is a serious element of risk in spending such a vast sum. Can he continue the rapid progression of the last few years? Were last season’s goal-scoring feats an anomaly or a sign of things to come?
Without the ability to see into the future there’s no sure way of telling. The signs and the graphs certainly indicate he’s on his way to world stardom. But will he be on his way out of White Hart Lane this summer? And if so, for how much?