Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale warmed his reputation with a fine performance during his club’s 3-1 win over Inter Milan, but does Manchester United really need him?
First thought would be absolutely, but when you take a longer, more sensible approach to that same question one might think otherwise.
There is no question that every side in Europe would benefit from having a player like Bale in their squad, but, like in life, there is a difference between need and want in football.
Bale has shown great progress in the past year and has become one of, if not the hottest, young prospects in the Barclays Premier League, and now he is proving his skill against some of the biggest clubs in the UEFA Champions League.
A couple things need to be mentioned about, not to take anything away, from his outstanding performance against Inter Milan; 1. Maicon, though a top-defender, is more known for his attacking than his defending, and has not been himself since Jose Mourinho left for Real Madrid; 2. Rafael Benitez is not the manager Sir Alex Ferguson is, and has a very hard time trying to figure out how to stop his opponent’s top man.
There is no secret that the Gaffer is on the hunt for suitable, ready-made replacements for both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in the next six months, and if Bale is that player then he will be force to cough up a lot of money to attain his services.
It is said, whether one believes it or not is their choice, that Sir Alex has £100 million to spend this summer to bring in reinforcements to his squad, and he would have to shatter United’s transfer record to get Bale.
In today’s market, Bale is worth anywhere between £60-£70 million, which is a measly £55-£65 million more than United could have got him from Southampton three years ago – and almost £30-£40 million more than they paid for Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
This time last season this conversation would be almost laughable because Bale was not even guaranteed a spot on the Spurs’ bench let alone being mentioned as the long-term solution to United’s vacant left wing.
One common misconception is that Martin Jol, not Harry Redknapp, should be credited with bringing him to Tottenham, because the current Ajax manager has always had an eye for young talent, but he was never given a real chance to work with him, because was sacked five months to the day of his signing.
Redknapp, who nearly gave up on him prior to his break out in the middle of last season, was finally rewarded as Bale took to his new found role in the midfield.
The winger role suited him better, because it allowed him to show his pace and skills against opposing right-side wingers and full-backs.
In Tottenham’s 2-0 loss at Old Trafford, he was a bit quiet through the match, until his 50-yard dash through the United defense midway through the second-half.
The Welshman showed that he definitely has pace to burn and muscle to match, but he became almost a non-factor when old reliable Wes Brown came on for the young, sprightly Rafael.
Now, if Sir Alex does decide to go in for him, what does that mean for the current wingers in the squad?
Nani, Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park are all very capable wingers, and now with Bébé adding to the mix, there would be two, maybe three, of those players left out in the cold every week.
Once Valencia has recovered from his broken leg, there will already be a selection headache for Sir Alex, so why would he add to it?
While competition for places is always a good thing, disgruntled players aren’t.
Nani patrols the left wing, because of Valencia’s inability to use both, and the Portuguese winger has really started to mature, and is slowly becoming one of the better wingers in the Premier League.
Simple math would tell a person with common sense that two wings and three wingers do not equal each other, so it would be really at the discretion of the United manager as to whether he would run the risk of having unhappy players.
Neither Bale, Nani nor Valencia would want to be sitting on the cold substitute’s bench as the other two get their chance to show the world their abilities, so the chances for a peeved player would dramatically increase.
Bale is one of, if not, the first player on Redknapp’s teamsheet, so what would entice him to leave?
It is not even certain that Bale would trade White Hart Lane for Old Trafford for just a place in the United squad, because he is already experiencing everything a footballer could ever want in terms of playing in the biggest and best competitions.
Whether United supporters can admit it or not, Spurs are probably one or two key signings from competing for the Premier League title, so it would take something special to pry him away from them – e.g. being a Manchester United supporter.
It surely would not be the pressure of the price tag of becoming one of the world’s most expensive 21-year olds, and he is already on a £50,000/week, four-year contract that he just signed in May.
Gareth Bale would definitely get a hero’s welcome if Sir Alex Ferguson decided to snap up the young prospect, but there is enough quality in the Manchester United squad to cope without him signing on.