In a new series of articles, FantasySports.co.uk will analyse the likely formation and performance impact that legendary players would have on some of the Premier League’s greatest clubs. Today, we start by asking the question: ‘How would Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale fit in at Manchester United?’
Gareth Bale has won everything there is to win in club football since moving to Real Madrid in September 2013. Bale has played 23 times in La Liga for Real Madrid this term. Six of those appearances were from the bench as the Welshman has found life in the Spanish capital more difficult than in years past. Despite his lack of appearances, Bale has still scored 12 league goals and collected two assists.
The good news for Bale is this term has been an improvement on the previous as injuries blighted his 2016-17 season. Unfortunately, injuries continue to be a major problem for Bale. The nippy winger has missed a total of 14 matches due to calf injuries and an abductor problem.
Comparing Bale’s 2017-18 season to the current Manchester United squad would make the Welshman one of Jose Mourinho’s top goal producers. Bale’s 12 strikes would put him second on the Red Devils behind Romelu Lukaku.
Anthony Martial is second in goals with nine, but the Manchester United winger has had six more league games to score his.
If you put Bale’s 12 goals and his two assists directly into the Manchester United squad right now, the Red Devils would have 81 goals scored. The total would put them second in the Premier League rather than fifth.
In addition, Manchester United could add six to nine more points to their league total. As many as nine points could seriously close the gap to Manchester City, and if the Red Devils had topped their rivals in the first Manchester Derby of the season, theoretically, Mourinho’s team could be top of the league.
Bale’s injury record shows that he would miss game time at Manchester United. That is a given as each year it seems the winger sits out large chunks of games.
Despite his injuries, the 28-year-old is an upgrade over Mourinho’s current options on the wing. Or is he?
Marcus Rashford has tallied six Premier League goals and five assists. Yet, he has only started 15 matches. Mourinho has been reluctant to play the 20-year-old. The manager’s indecision on whether to start Rashford has caused the winger to put in some poor performances at times. In all, Rashford’s goals and assists are up this term compared to previous seasons.
Jesse Lingard has also seen his goals and assists totals reach career highs. Lingard has tallied eight goals and five assists while starting 19 of 31 matches. Meanwhile, Martial has tallied his second-best career season in terms of goal with nine in 29 matches.
Bale’s addition would improve the Red Devils, but Mourinho is already getting solid production out of the other three wide options. A change in tactics could, and probably would, get more out of those three.
If Bale was added to Mourinho’s squad, the player would definitely be outperforming Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean has scored just twice since joining in January from Arsenal.
Overall, Bale would make a positive contribution to Manchester United, but the biggest question would be about his fitness in the more aggressive Premier League.