Let’s just scale this back a bit, shall we?
I’ve never really understood the need for comparisons, or the eagerness with which one player is christened as a ‘new’ version of another. It’s a redundant debate.
Gareth Bale is playing at an extremely high level at the moment, but the speed at which he’s been elevated from ‘one of the best players in the Premier League’ to ‘Balon d’Or’ certainty is alarming. Obviously, there are signs that he’s developing into someone who belongs in that latter category, but he’s not there yet – and it’s not really credible to suggest that he is.
In fairness, a lot of these recent opinions are coming from people who don’t watch Tottenham on a regular basis, and have happened to catch a couple of his latest performances on television. Against Aston Villa he was superb, he was arguably the best player on the pitch at The Hawthorns, and indisputably he ran Newcastle ragged in the second-half at White Hart Lane on Saturday. But that’s still a small sample-size.
What characterises players of the status of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, is their ability to dominate throughout an entire season. In every game they play, they’re a force. Bale isn’t there yet. In the years since his emergence into what know him to be now, his form has always fluctuated and his extreme purple patches have been interspersed with periods of indifference. That will go with time, and it’s without question just a product of his age, but it’s still what separates him from the players who exist in the game’s stratosphere.
The objective here isn’t to rain on anybody’s parade or dampen the enthusiasm for a fantastically-talented player, but just to recognise that we’ve been here before with British players. We prematurely anoint them as something they’re not, and then we beat them back down again because they don’t satisfy our inflated expectations – there’s really no need, and it serves no positive purpose.
Just enjoy watching him, and take pride in a home-grown player evolving into something special.