‘Bale bettered Zidane & Ronaldo, he’s a great’ – Welsh star shone at Real Madrid prior to Spurs return, says Savage

Gareth Bale Real Madrid Champions League final 2017-18
The Wales international has often been the focus for criticism during his time in Spain, but Savage believes the flak is unjustified

Gareth Bale’s record at Real Madrid places him among “the greats”, claims Robbie Savage, with the former Wales international eager to point out that the Tottenham-bound star bettered the efforts of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo during his time in Spain.

A testing end to a spell at Santiago Bernabeu has been endured by a man who became the most expensive player on the planet when joining the Blancos in 2013.

Bale found himself frozen out under Zinedine Zidane before pushing for a return to the Premier League, with questions being asked of his fitness and attitude on a regular basis.

The 31-year-old now has the opportunity to silence his critics, as he prepares to head back to familiar surroundings on an initial loan deal, but Savage says a fellow countryman has nothing to prove.

For him, Bale has already secured a standing among the modern legends – particularly in Madrid where he added two La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns to his medal collection.

Savage told The Mirror: “For me, Bale’s record stands comparison with any of British football’s best ­players abroad – from the great John Charles at ­Juventus, to Kevin Keegan at Hamburg, Tony Woodcock at Cologne, ­Michael Owen and Steve ­McManaman at Real Madrid, Paul Ince at Inter Milan, Paul Gascoigne at Lazio and Gary Lineker at ­Barcelona.

“And Bale should be revered in Spain with the very best imported legends. Just look at his stats, which stack up well in comparison with some of the ­biggest names.

“He has scored 105 goals, won 13 ­trophies, ­including the Champions League four times, and his overhead kick against Liverpool two years ago was the greatest goal in a major final I’ve seen.

“Compare that with the great Zinedine ­Zidane, now his coach at Real: 49 goals, six trophies and that world-class volley against Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League final.

“Compare Bale’s ­record with Luis Figo: 57 goals, seven trophies. And compare it with Brazilian legend Ronaldo: 104 goals and three trophies.

“Bale has scored more goals and won more trophies than those three. So he is up there with the greats.”

On a move to rejoin Spurs, Savage added: “Where will he fit in at Tottenham?

“Jose Mourinho is tactically more astute than I can ever hope to be, but I would play him just off Harry Kane in a ­central role.

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“That is where he has the best chance of manipulating the ball on to that deadly left foot and ­influencing the game.

“With Kane and Bale, ­Tottenham will lift the whole club, lift the supporters and it should give them a better chance of lifting trophies this season.

“I’m not sure it will be enough to outweigh ­Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea’s squad depths, but it will make Spurs an even more fascinating watch this season.”