The attacking full back has become a necessity in your team if you want to win games nowadays in the Premiership, with the likes of Ashley Cole, Patrice Evra and Glen Johnson all epitomising this role. Another full back in this mould is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, who has silenced his critics recently with a series of impressive displays. Is he ready to join the elite league of full backs in the Premiership?
Against Bolton and Everton last week, Bale was in fine form for Spurs. Mark Turner wrote on this site this week how Bale’s impressive form is keeping Benoit Assou-Ekotto out of the Spurs side, and whether they will have to offload the Cameroon international due to the form of Bale.
Bale has always been a raw talent and has always had the potential to be great, that’s why Spurs forked out an initial £5 million for the youngster in 2007. But a succession of injuries, concerns about his defensive ability, inconsistency and that unlucky run of 24 games without winning while the Welsh international was in the side disrupted his development.
Bale had previously been exposed with his defending, after constantly going forward and leaving room behind him for the opposition to exploit. Bale admitted this fault, and says he has worked on his all-round game, saying:
“I needed to improve on certain aspects of my game and I’ve been working on that with the coaching staff. The main thing I’ve worked on is my defending.”
Blessed with an excellent left foot, accurate at free-kicks and exceptional going forward, Bale is ideally suited to playing on the left wing instead of a full-back. That would allow Assou-Ekotto, who is a better defender, to play left back and Bale can concentrate on attacking. Move Modric to the middle of the Spurs midfield to accommodate Bale and you have a real threat down the left side of the Spurs midfield.
So where does Bale rank in terms of attacking full backs in the Premiership? If we focus on the left side, there are Cole, Evra, Clichy, Warnock, Figueroa and Baines that could make the top five. I personally would say Bale ranks just below Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra. He is still only 20, and has flaws in his game, especially defensively, that he needs to resolve and does not have the experience that a Cole or Evra possesses. But if Bale continues to develop and can become a regular starter for Spurs, then he has every chance of being the best attacking full back in the Premiership in a few years.
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