In the summer of 2009, Real Madrid, desperate to sign a player who could match arch rivals Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, smashed the world transfer record to sign a 24 year old Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. Beaten by Barcelona to the league title by nine points and a goal difference of 39, Real badly needed a player that could match up to the genius of Barca’s Messi.
Ronaldo, himself, had just had a relatively frustrating season with the Red Devils. Despite winning a third consecutive Premier League title, United were easily beaten 2-0 by Barcelona in the Champions League Final. Moreover, Ronaldo’s 26 goals in all competitions was a much lesser total than his tally of 42 in the previous season, and lost out on the Ballon D’Or to Leo Messi.
After spurning Real’s advances the previous season, United agreed to let Ronaldo go, after the player expressed his desire to play for Los Blancos, for a whopping 80 million pounds- a world record breaking transfer. Since then, Ronaldo has thrived, scoring at a ratio of over a goal per game, and becoming one of the deadliest goal scorers in the world.
Four years on, Real have set their sights on another 24 year old winger – Tottenham’s Gareth Bale. The Welsh wizard has had his best season yet, scoring 26 goals in all competitions for Spurs, exactly the number of goals Ronaldo scored in his last season in the Premier League, and almost single handedly carrying Spurs to the verge of Champions League qualification.
This has led to him being linked to a number of Champions League clubs; namely Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid. But with PSG signing Edinson Cavani and United pursuing Cesc Fabregas, the only remaining suitor is Real, who need a world class signing to rival Barcelona’s acquisition of Neymar. While the thought of Messi and Neymar up front in any team would be enough to give the best defenders nightmares, the prospect of Ronaldo and Bale, two of the most destructive wingers in the world in one team, is no less.
But Spurs will be desperate to hold on to their star man, having already broken their transfer record twice this season to sign Paulinho from Corinthians and Roberto Soldado from Valencia. These two, along with the talents of Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris, new signing Nacer Chadli and the promising Lewis Holtby could turn Tottenham into genuine title contenders provided they are able to keep the Welshman. However, Real are reportedly tabling a staggering £105 million bid after Spurs chairman Daniel Levy asked for £125m. Blimey.
When Real signed Ronaldo, he had had two great seasons and had already won one Ballon D’Or, one FIFA World Player of The Year, two PFA Players’ Player of The Year awards, two PFA Fans’ Player of The Year awards, three Premier Leagues, an FA Cup, two League Cups, a Champions League and more. 80 million is justifiable for this sort of achievement.
Bale has twice won the PFA Players’ Player of The Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year. Impressive in their own right but it’s not as long a list as the Portuguese. Bale has, however, been part of a Spurs team that was nowhere near the likes of Manchester United. Paying £25m more for him than what they paid for Ronaldo, who was exactly the same age back then, and possibly even exchanging a player for Gareth Bale, an incredible talent, but with less Champions League experience, is very risky business. Just look at Luka Modric, who similarly arrived from Spurs last season, and struggled to find a starting berth for all of last season.
Bale is a genuinely world class player though, and if he and Ronaldo get going, Real Madrid might finally win that elusive Champions League crown that has eluded them since 2002.