Bale Vs Reus: Have Real Madrid Targeted The Wrong Forward?

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The Bale-to-Madrid transfer saga is still ongoing, imitating a drawn out character story that you might have had the misfortune of watching on one of your nation’s soap operas. Will he stay? Will he go? What happens next? The excitement is unbearable – at least I think that’s what the emotion is. Oh no, it’s boredom. Yes, complete boredom.

In order to wake up from the mundane and tedious summer transfer sagas featuring Luis Suárez, Wayne Rooney and the potential world record signing of Gareth Bale, I present a new concept for you to consider: should Real Madrid switch transfer targets towards another 24-year-old – Marco Reus?

Yes, Gareth Bale is the new kid on the block – the Premier League’s most delectable talent that appears to be tickling the taste buds of Los Blancos  - but Marco Reus would offer similar attacking qualities at a greatly reduced price. The German international played superbly during his final season at Borussia Mönchengladbach, scooping the German Footballer of the Year award in 2012, before making the switch to the eventual Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund last year. However, Real Madrid are like magpies of local folklore, always seeking out shiny new objects to bring back to their nest, and Reus doesn’t have the intense media hype that currently surrounds Tottenham’s midfield magician. Marco Reus is so last year!

Player Comparison

While it’s often unfair to strictly compare players at different clubs, such are the vast number of variables – manager philosophy and formation being one – Gareth Bale and Marco Reus have performed brilliantly across a multitude of attacking midfield positions for Tottenham and Dortmund respectively. One important piece of information that I must bring to your attention before venturing further, is that Reus played 584 minutes (close to ten hours) less than Gareth Bale last season. Take that into consideration when comparing totals for the various categories.

Squawka Player Rankings - Bale Vs Reus performance scores

Simply looking their Squawka Performance Scores reveals the following: Marco Reus performed better than Bale defensively, while the Welshman obtained a higher Attack and Possession Score, resulting in a total of 497 points separating the midfielders’ total scores.

The pair mirror each other in terms of the total number of personal duels won (187), with Reus excelling in the defensive aspect of his game – 47 tackles – and Bale showcasing a plethora of attacking qualities, such as successfully surging past opponents 59 times and winning 41% of aerial duels.

Squawka Rankings - Bale vs Reus duels won

Last season was certainly Gareth Bale’s time to shine in an attacking sense, while Marco Reus excelled in a multitude of aspects, showcasing a broad range of attacking and defensive qualities. If Cristiano Ronaldo is to transition into a more central position for Real Madrid next season, following the departure of Gonzalo Higuaín to Napoli, Reus could perhaps offer far more defensive cover than Ronaldo (twelve successful tackles last season) in his favoured inside left position, mirroring the work ethic of Ángel di María down the right – although Mesut Özil will no doubt feature on the flanks during next season’s La Liga campaign.

Squawka Rankings - Bale vs Reus pass accuracy

In an attacking sense, Marco Reus picked up more assists than Tottenham’s midfield maestro with far fewer key passes, but also had the luxury of playing behind one of Europe’s most feared strikers in Robert Lewandowski. Bale, on the other hand, can only brag about playing with the likes of five-goal-man Emmanuel Adebayor, and 30-year-old Jermain Defoe. Given that Reus played 584 minutes less than the Real Madrid transfer target, it’s a fairly safe assumption that the Borussia Dortmund midfielder would have gone on to at least reach similar levels of successful and key passes.

A separation can be found when comparing the number of goals scored, with Tottenham’s lethal Welshman amassing a total of 21 goals in 33 appearances last season, thus winning the PFA Young Player of the Year, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year awards.

Squawka Rankings - total goals scored

Credit must also be given to Marco Reus during his début season at Dortmund, with the 24-year-old rampaging through the attacking third and finding the back of the net a total of 14 times in 14 full appearances for the club. The goals were scored from a variety of angles that showcased supreme technical quality, an eye for goal, and lethality from any location around the 18-yard box. Marco Reus scored a multitude of goals from different angles last season.

Marco Reus stats - total goals scored

Germany or Wales?

There’s not been too many times during the rich history of football where Real Madrid have shown interest in signing a Wales international, let alone an occasion where a vast number of fans would choose a Welshman over a talented German international. But we find ourselves in this exact position.

Reports suggest that Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is looking to push through a move before the end of the summer transfer window, while other media outlets indicate a calming of interest from Los Blancos. If the latter is true and Borussia Dortmund are willing to sell their prized asset this summer (perhaps unlikely following the loss of Mario Götze), or the next, then Marco Reus could be an attractive alternative proposition for one of the world’s most prestigious clubs.

We’ve not heard the last of the Gareth Bale transfer saga, so excuse me while I redecorate my room, grab an armchair and watch the paint dry.

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson
Sam is a recent graphic design graduate and aspiring journalist who is relatively new to the football journalistic scene. He founded the original Football Manager Tactical Newspaper website in 2011 and has currently launched the site under a new domain - tacticalnewspaper.com.
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