As the Gareth Bale to Real Madrid saga seems to be coming to a close, it’s hard not to see how things turned out so differently for Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott.
Both were signed from Southampton from an early age and both were courted by clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. But in the end, Theo went to Arsenal and Bale to Tottenham.
Both Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale joined Arsenal and Tottenham respectively as 17 year olds, Theo in 2006 for £12 million and Bale a year later for £10 million. And now in 2013, Bale is set to be the most expensive footballer in the world and move to Real Madrid, while Theo Walcott is still at Arsenal but is their highest paid player.
Both are blessed with exceptional pace which has been their main asset over the years but Gareth Bale has added power, guile and goals to his game whereas Theo hasn’t stalled, but reached a peak of his abilities.
It would be unfair to use Bale’s transfer fee as a base for comparison as even Tottenham fans must realised, the Welshman is grossly over-priced. £93 million for him is quite frankly obscene and the fact that Real Madrid’s have no accountability financially (excuse the pun) is disgusting. A player is worth what another team is willing to pay but you can’t tell me Bale is worth more than Falcao, who has consistently performed at the highest level for 4/5 seasons now. Bale has had one excellent season and 55 goals in 203 games for Tottenham is not in the same league as Cristiano Ronaldo. One think you do have to say about Tottenham is that they obviously have a chairman who is savvy and knows what he’s doing in the transfer market because if it were us, we’d probably sell Bale for about £35 million.
At this moment in time, there is no doubt that Gareth Bale is the better player. There was the famous story that he was going to be sold to Birmingham for £3 million in 2009 after a string of poor performances.
But, and I’ve made this point a few times before, for me Bale has had one outstanding season. Even Gary Neville said he needs to do it season in and season out to be considered world class. I would go as far to say Bale is overrated. Ronaldo was phenomenal for 3/4 seasons before he went to Real Madrid. It is one amazing piece of business by Tottenham.
For me, Theo Walcott has been the far more consistent player and been the better player over the last 5/6 seasons. Bale “set the world alight” with 26 goals last season, Theo scored 21. And when you put that into context, Theo’s record is more impressive. Added to 14 assists he got and considering he plays on the wing, Theo has contributed as much as Bale did to Tottenham last season. And 5 more goals is all well and good but Andre Villas Boas based the entire team around getting the best out of Bale.
The two seasons before last, Bale scored 23 goals while Theo scored 24. And Theo notched up 18 assists while Bale managed 17.
If you compare their records over the last 3 seasons combined, they read as follows:
Theo Walcott – 45 goals and 32 assists
Gareth Bale – 49 goals and 26 assists
And another factor is that along with playing in the Premier League, Theo Walcott has been playing in the Champions League every season while Gareth Bale has mainly played in the Europa League.
I’m not 100% sure about their goal scoring records against the big sides (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal & Tottenham) but I would be surprised if Bale’s record is better in the big games. Off the top of my head I can remember a lot of goals from Theo against Chelsea and Tottenham in particular.
So there you have it, why Theo is the better player – and I’m sure that will still be the case in 2 years time when Theo is still performing for Arsenal and Gareth Bale is back in the Premier League.