Real Madrid's latest Galactico wants to emulate Puskas and di Stefano.
Kaka, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil, Fabio Coentrao and Luka Modric are just some of the second generation Galacticos that have played for Real Madrid. If former Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale's recent comments are anything to go by, he won't be content merely joining that list… no, he wants to go one step further and become a club legend.
'There have been the likes of [Zinedine] Zidane and obviously the previous ones, which were a bit before my time, like [Ferenc] Puskas and [Alfredo] di Stefano,' the Welshman, 24, is quoted by Sky Sports to have said.
'There are a lot of players who have been unbelievable here, world class and legends of the game. Hopefully, I can become the player I want to be, and hopefully be in that league.'
For inspiration in how he can accomplish that, he need look no further than current team-mate and fellow Premier League expat Cristiano Ronaldo who, like Bale, transferred away from a club in England with a hefty price tag on his head.
Ronaldo has not only justified his 2009 £80m valuation, but surpassed it, by becoming the club's first consistent one goal per game player. At the time of writing, Ronaldo has made 202 competitive appearances for Los Blancos. He has found the net 202 times.
This puts him sixth on the chart for the club's top 10 goalscorers of all-time and, if his current ratio is anything to go by, he'll be fourth by the season's end. And maybe even second at the conclusion of next year's campaign.
|Player||Goals||Games||Per game average|
|Alfredo di Stefano||305||392||0.78|
A number of Real legends believe it is only a matter of time before Ronaldo knocks di Stefano and Raul down a peg and stands alone as the number one, as Amancio Amaro – tenth on this list – told the club's official website at the beginning of the year that: 'At the rate he's going, he'll beat all the records.'
This is not about Ronaldo, though. His status as an all-time Estadio Santiago Bernabeu great is secure, regardless of whose striking statistics he does or does not exceed.
This is about Bale. A player who may get less striking opportunity than Ronaldo, who could become the focal point of Carlo Ancelotti's attack, relegating Benzema to a squad role, in a position he fulfills for his international side; Portugal.
This is about Bale. A player who won't get the lion's share of chances to convert dead ball situations as, that too, will continue to be a duty enjoyed by Ronaldo.
Bale, though, does not need to replicate Ronaldo's prolificacy in front of goal in order to achieve legendary status. After all, Zidane, Fernando Hierro, Jose Antonio Camacho and Fernando Redondo are nowhere to be found on goal-scoring lists but are all marveled for their playmaking ways, their defensive qualities and their contributions to success in Europe.
And that is what it may come down to. If Bale is to go on to help orchestrate a coveted, but elusive, Decima (tenth Champions League title), then it will matter not that his goals to games ratio is lacking compared to his colleague's.
But going on to become di Stefano to Ronaldo's Puskas will only aid his cause, the justification and surpassing of his £85.3m price-tag will be completed and he his place in the hallowed hall of fame will be secured.
image: © Gabor Tokai