It’s the question that’s on everybody’s lips right now, and a brief review of his key stats suggests to me that the answer is a resounding “no”.
For an attacking midfielder like Bale, the things I would be most interested in are how creative he is, and what’s his goalscoring record like. Perhaps more importantly, is it sustainable?
Starting with creativity, I have taken a look at frequency of open play chance creation, and how often players create the all important clear-cut chances.
Bale does not perform especially well on either of these metrics. The following table shows open play chance creation, for players who fashioned a minimum of twenty-five opportunities (in order to weed out the occasional substitutes who have created the odd chance) in 2012/13.
Rather than have an enormous table, I have shown the top ten, and as this is primarily a Liverpool blog, any Reds who have outperformed Spurs’ man of the moment.
Eighteen year old Raheem Sterling deserves a pat on the back here I’d say! Away from Anfield, it is worth noting that the top ten contains a few largely unheralded players, including Southampton’s Rickie Lambert, and Swansea’s Pablo Hernandez.
Looking at clear-cut opportunities reveals a similar picture; twenty-five players (who created a minimum of six top quality scoring chances) were more frequently effective than Gareth Bale was. For the second time in this study, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has outperformed the Welsh international.
We have seen that Bale, whilst far from terrible, is not a front-runner in the Premier League creativity stakes. However, he was the third top scorer in the division, with 21 goals. Whilst this is no mean feat from midfield, a look at a table I used in a previous article about Alessandro Matri reveals that Bale is not efficient here either.
We can see that Bale had the second worst shot conversion percentage of the players from Europe’s big five leagues that scored at least twenty goals. He fared little better than the Premier League average of 10% conversion, and this was despite a very impressive performance from outside the box.
The Tottenham man scored seven open play goals from seventy-five shots outside the area in 2012/13, giving him a very impressive conversion rate of 9.3%. This may not initially sound too hot, but when you consider that the league average is just 2.3%, his record takes on a whole new dimension.
My concern here though, is can he sustain it? During the season before, just one of his ninety-three open play shots found the back of the net, for a lowly conversion percentage of just 1.08%.
Plus if he were to go to Real, he would surely get fewer shooting opportunities than he does at Spurs too; he may have taken a whopping 27.9% of Tottenham’s efforts on average, but Cristiano Ronaldo topped that with an incredible 36.9% of his team’s efforts. Most things at Real go through him, so logically with fewer shots Bale will not bring as many goals to the party.
None of the above is to say that Gareth Bale is not a fantastic player; clearly he is, and it would be churlish of me to suggest otherwise. Having only recently turned twenty-four, he also has time to improve further, and the best years of his career are likely in the future.
As a statto though, I can’t see why he would be worth close to £80m. Daniel Levy may be playing it cool for now, but if I were him I would be planning how to spend my income from the next Galactico.
Stats taken from EPLIndex. Related posts you might like:
Alessandro Matri: Liverpool Bound? – No idea, but his stats suggest the Reds should at least be interested.
Hold Your Nerve (Now and Next Season) – Some thoughts on Liverpool’s transfer activity so far in summer 2013.
Mkhitaryan vs Eriksen: Champions League Showdown – Two supposed transfer targets for the Reds, but who has performed better in Europe’s top club competition?