Two Welshmen started the 2013/14 season with two very different aims. Whilst one was looking to justify the world record transfer fee that Real Madrid had agreed for him, the other was trying to repay the faith placed in him by Arsenal faithfuls. With the season now concluded it is fair to say that both the players in question, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey had successful seasons for their respective clubs.
Much was expected from Bale after his move to Real Madrid from Spurs and the Welsh wing wizard certainly did not disappoint. Although he had to wait for his debut, he took to the stage like a duck to water. Amidst the galaxy of stars at Real, Bale certainly managed to make a very big impact. Whether it was scoring the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, or the goal game that gave the lead in the champions league final against Atletico Madrid, Bale certainly scored his fair share of crucial goals in his debut season with Real Madrid.
Whilst there was plenty of expectation on Bale, Ramsey’s case was a little different. Some had already started to get on the back of Arsene Wenger for entrusting the youngster with such a big responsibility right at the start of the season, instead of signing an experienced central midfielder. However, Aaron Ramsey’s sublime start to the season proved his doubters wrong and showed that Wenger was right to put his faith in him. And it was fitting that it was Ramsey, who scored the goal that gave the Gunners their first piece of silverware in nine years.
Both Ramsey and Bale had a successful season both individually, and collectively, as a team. Which now begs the question, who had the better season? Was it the 23-year-old central midfielder who was crucial to Arsenal’s FA Cup win and fourth place finish or was it the player who gave Real Madrid their 10th European crown, one that has eluded them for over a decade?
In terms of sheer numbers, there can only be one winner. Although Ramsey scored 10 times and assisted a further eight goals in the Premier League, his injury mid-way through the season means that he doesn’t really have the same numbers as his compatriot. Although both players play in different positions, the simple fact is that, Bale’s tally of 15 goals and 12 assists in his first La Liga campaign overshadows Ramsey’s stats, even though he only played four more League games, 27 compared to Ramsey’s 23.
Then again, football isn’t all about numbers. It is also about their contribution to the team. While there is no doubt that Bale scored and assisted more goals than Ramsey, was he as central to his team’s performances as Ramsey was? The simple answer is No. As good as Bale was, Cristiano Ronaldo was certainly more influential and behind him were Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos in no particular order.
The fact that Arsenal struggled without Ramsey during his injury layoff means that, from a rank outsider, Ramsey has quickly established himself as a first team regular. And that is reason enough for him to trump Bale in that regard. Even if Ramsey only has the FA Cup to show for his season’s efforts, while Bale has both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, his importance to his team and the way they play, means that for all of Bale’s trophies, Ramsey had a much better season for the Gunners.
While it is true that many crumble under the weight of expectations, on the evidence of his performances since his world record move to Real Madrid, it is safe to say that Bale is thriving in his new environment. And with more time at the club, he will only continue to get better and better. But, the stunning transformation Ramsey has shown over the course of last season means that, for all of his goals, Bale is pipped by his compatriot when one looks at who has had the better season, as a player.