Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo

It’s unclear what Real Madrid have offered Tottenham for Gareth Bale; straight up cash or an exchange deal that includes Angel di Maria and Fabio Coentrao for the Welsh player, but the one player who’ll have to do most of the changing if he arrives at the Santiago Bernabeu is Cristiano Ronaldo.

For now, it looks like Bale is mostly stunned by the fact that Real Madrid are offering a record breaking amount, more or less, for him, and Daniel Levy is still refusing to negotiate with the club. Tottenham are trying to sign Bale on a long-term deal, and there’s a good chance that all these news of offers being made are part of a negotiating tactic.

But until we have something more concrete regarding both outcomes, it’s OK to fantasize and speculate. Andre Villas-Boas got the best season ever out of Gareth Bale last year, as he swept the individual awards and finished with 21 league goals, but not enough to put Spurs in the Champions League.

Bale played as a left midfielder/winger last season once again, but spent a lot more time than ever before in the middle. The change worked wonders on his all-around ability as a footballer, but mostly on his ability to threaten the goal from long range and continue to develop as a footballer. Instead of just being a rare physical specimen on the wing, Bale is now one of the best footballers in the world because of his ability, and not just his speed.

Ronaldo vs Bale

But if he does arrive to Real Madrid, someone will have to move, and it’s more than likely it’ll be Cristiano Ronaldo. In early friendly matches, we already saw Ronaldo playing in a role similar to how he was used by Manuel Pellegrini in 2009-2010; more or less in the center of the attack as a supporting striker. Some say Ancelotti has made that change to start preparing for the arrival of Bale, but Ancelotti doesn’t like using wingers in any case.

Bale, if he does arrive, will shift into the position Ronaldo occupied last season, although in a different formation. He won’t be a left winger, but in a slightly more retreated role, supporting the attackers from behind, and with a lot more slides into the middle. Unlike Ronaldo, Bale doesn’t have a right foot to help him dominate and surprise defenses, but he’s probably the better crosser, and often more willing to let go of the ball than Ronaldo.

For now, this is all hypothetical. Real Madrid might not end up with the player, which will leave them with a very talented lineup in any case, but without that “WOW” signing they’re accustomed to bringing in almost every summer, unless, although Isco might be good enough to put into that category.

However, with Real, it’s often not about the quality of player they bring in, but actually about the amount of money they spend and amount of buzz they create by bringing in someone. Neymar and Barcelona stole their thunder very early in the summer, and Real Madrid want to be the team to make their mark on the end of the offseason.

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