ormer Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has revealed he doesn’t feel as though Gareth Bale has enough about him to scale the same heights as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Bale joined Los Blancos from Spurs in the summer of 2013. At White Hart Lane, he dovetailed superbly with the intricate Van der Vaart, but the Dutchman told Canal Plus (h/t Nicholas Godden of the MailOnline) he’s surprised the Liga giants made the Welsh international the most expensive player in the history of the game.
“I never thought Bale would end up playing at Real Madrid,” said Van der Vaart. “Bale isn’t like [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi. That’s another level.”
Van der Vaart left Tottenham in the summer of 2012—a season before Bale departed himself. During his two years at White Hart Lane, the Dutchman was an adept orchestrator of Spurs’ attacking forays under manager Harry Redknapp, helping bring the best out of the likes of the Welshman and another former Spurs, current Real star, Luka Modric.
Bale was one of a few exceptional attacking weapons during those couple of seasons, but it was the campaign after Van der Vaart left, as well as Modric, that he showcased his world-class talent. The Welshman relished the responsibility at the heart of the Tottenham team, and the quality and mentality needed to play for Real Madrid began to shine through.
Still, there’s no denying despite making more progress as a footballer at the Santiago Bernabeu, Bale has not reached the levels of Messi and his current team-mate Ronaldo. The pair remain the standout players in world football, scoring goals at a remarkably consistent rate and making match-winning contributions for their side regularly.
Bale did that too in his first season as a Los Blancos player, scoring the winning goal in the final of both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Things haven’t been quite so easy for Bale since, though.
Bale may never have enough to be as prolific a goalscorer as Ronaldo, but, given the opportunity, he’s got the attributes to be Real’s main man eventually.