Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever spinning wheel. Like a snowball down a mountain or a carnival balloon. Like a carousel that’s turning, running rings around the moon. What I think Dusty and Petula were getting at, in the late sixties and mid-eighties, ahead of their time as usual, was Gareth Bale’s non-transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to nowhere: every transfer window he’s supposed to move, but every transfer window the move fails to arrive. Like a circle, see.
Here’s what’s up with that. Unlike Luka Modric and, soon enough, Wesley Sneijder, Bale is actually too good to move clubs, and that explains, in full, the non-transfers. Basically, if you have a look around at all of the big European clubs Bale is being linked with at the moment and try and identify one which has the capacity to handle a player with his credentials—otherwise known as his thighs—you’ll find no-one suitable.
There is, quite simply, not a club out there which could sustain that kind of leg power in its team. Many people will have seen and admired his performance against Liverpool on Wednesday—it was, after all, magnificence of a kind which has hardly been abundant in the Premier League this season—but none of those people will have had the benefit of some of genuine analysis of one moment of particular brilliance – his free-kick goal. And thus those people will remain in the dark over just how good it was.
It went like this. Bale and another player, irrelevant apart from being a disgrace for trying to obscure some of Bale’s brilliance by standing next to him with his merely average ability, stood behind the ball, thirty yards from goal. Bale had already had a shot from a similar distance earlier in the game, so it was obvious he was going to take this one. He did. He took roughly five small steps towards the ball and hit it with what I think I’m right in saying was his left foot. Was it going right? No. Was it going right? No! Left then? Surely not? Ah, it did go left.
And then from Pepe Reina’s perspective in the Liverpool goal: Is it going left? It must be. No. Surely left? No. Not right though? Maybe, I’m not telling you. Right? I honestly can’t believe the ball went right. This was exactly the story of the ball’s movement. And that’s how good Bale’s free-kick was. Left? Left? Left?! Right.
Yesterday someone tried to tell me that I’d just not watched it closely enough, and that actually the ball was deflected off the wall, so the goal wasn’t really spectacular at all, just another sham in a lifetime full of shams. But I wasn’t having it. I refused to re-watch it because I’d rather live the lie than live in a world where Gareth Bale didn’t put so much swerve on a ball that it sent Pepe Reina completely the wrong way.
Now, at which club does that probably-maybe-not-brilliance fit? Nowhere. Real Madrid are the club Bale has been linked with most recently, with Luka Modric suggesting that a move would be fun for all involved. Modric, though, was wrong. Real have far too many good players to properly appreciate how good Bale is, as the case of newly-not playing Modric has shown. Manchester United, then? After the way they’ve wasted their current crop of wingers? They don’t deserve him. Chelsea? Benitez is understood to be chasing Dirk Kuyt instead, so nothing doing. Manchester City? Bale wants to play as a winger, not a wing-back, so nope. Barcelona, then? There’s no space in that team. Inter Milan? Jokers. Juventus? Don’t play with wingers. AC Milan? Bale wouldn’t look good in their new kit.
It’s so easy to disregard each of those potential moves that you wouldn’t believe that I’d just knocked that list up off the top of my head whilst concentrating mainly on something else. Quite simply, Bale is stuck at Tottenham, a club he is in many ways too good for—he’s having to play next to Jermain Defoe—because to move anywhere else would inevitably be a mistake. There is no right move for someone as good as he is right now.
As a result, the next step in his career probably comes down to waiting. Eventually a worthwhile move will come along—maybe Manchester United will start taking football seriously again or maybe West Bromwich Albion will give in and become a real force in Europe now that they can be bothered with it—and then a move will happen. Until then, Bale will have to continue his fine current form without the fact that he’s literally too good to play for any one team getting to his. Difficult.
If that gets tedious he’ll always be able to relive that free-kick against Liverpool. We can relive it here, too. Remember? He stood behind the ball, maybe three yards away from it. Then he took some steps and he kicked the ball and it went in. At first it seemed to be going to the right, but then it went to the left. Was it going right? No. Was it going right? No! Left then? Surely not? Ah, it did go left.