> Gareth Bale vs. Neymar 2013-14: Which Player Has Been Better Buy Through First Half of Season?
Gareth Bale vs. Neymar 2013-14: Which Player Has Been Better Buy Through First Half of Season?
First Posted: Dec 15, 2013 10:51 PM EST
Barcelona’s Neymar celebrates with the trophy after they won the Spanish Super Cup against Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona August 29, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Juan Medina (SPAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Barcelona and Real Madrid made huge deals this summer for Neymar and Gareth Bale. These two stars were brought in to supplement already potent offenses and were seen as the Robins to the Batmans of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Which player has been the better buy for his team?
Bale was the more expensive player and obviously this plays a major factor in terms of getting more “bang for the buck.” Early on it looked like the Welshman was the bigger bust as he failed to stay healthy for lengthy periods of time.Despite scoring a goal in his first game for Los Blancos, Madrid’s number 11 remained on the bench for most of his early tenure with the team and also struggled with his health. In the five matches after his debut for Madrid, Bale did not net a single goal or assist and his low point came against Barcelona in a match in which he picked up a booking and was invisible for most of his time on the field. That Madrid’s resurgence in the match coincided with his removal from the game did not help matter. Neymar’s terrific goal and solid play in that game did not help matters either.
Neymar got off to a better start for his club as he scored the decisive goal in the Spanish Super Cup and was terrific at adapting to Barcelona’s passing system.Despite not scoring for most of the early part of the season, Neymar was contributing in other ways by creating chances for his teammates; Bale could not claim to do the same.
However, everything changed on Oct. 30 against Sevilla. After failing to impress against Barcelona and being called a bust, Bale woke up and put together a two goal, two assist performance in a 7-3 romp. A few days later he put together two assists in a 3-2 in over Rayo Vallecano and on Nov. 5, he scored his first Champions League goal against Juventus; Neymar did not score his first UCL tally until this past week in a 6-1 romp over Celtic. He produced two goals and one assist in the following games for Madrid and stepped up in a huge way against Valladolid with three goals and one assist; Cristiano Ronaldo was out of that match due to an injury and Bale showed the world that he could step up in the superstar’s absence. Neymar had struggled to do exactly that until he managed his five goal outburst this past week.
Through 11 games for Madrid, Bale has scored nine goals while Neymar has needed 19 to score 10 for Barcelona. The Welshman has six assists while the Brazilian has contributed 10 helpers thus far this season. Bale’s nine goals have come on 42 shots while Neymar has needed 71 shots to net his 10; this mark shows that Bale’s shooting percentage is far superior, but it could also bode poorly for him moving forward as regression is bound to hurt him along the way. Last year Bale scored 21 Premier League goals on 165 shots or 12 percent and is currently shooting an unsustainable 22 percent scoring rate; Ronaldo has a 14 percent scoring rate in the Spanish league with 17 goals on 120 shots.Bale’s best contribution however may have nothing to do with his own statistics. His emergence on the team has coincided with Karim Benzema’s own prominence on the team. The Frenchman was being booed out of the Santiago Bernabeu before he scored two goals and two assists in the 7-3 win over Sevilla; the same game that Bale put up the same stat line. In the following six games, Benzema tallied four goals and one assist for Madrid; he has 10 goals and five assists in 2013-14 for Real Madrid.
So who has been the better buy? Neymar was the winner early on, but Bale has swung momentum back in favor of late. Neymar’s recent goalscoring could swing the race back in his favor, but it is fair to say that both teams have gotten their money’s worth from their respective purchases.
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