Arsene Wenger regrets not signing Gareth Bale back in 2007. The Gunners boss revealed to Al Jazeera that he was monitoring Bale but decided not to pursue his interest, much to his regret now.
The Gunners were in business with Southampton a year earlier when they took 16-year old Theo Walcott from St. Mary’s and were back a year later to look at left-back Gareth Bale. However with Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy already at the ranks at Arsenal, Wenger decided to end his interest and the player ended up moving to arch rivals Tottenham Hostpur.
The start of Bale’s Spurs career was very good with rich scoring form including a sublime free kick against North London rivals Arsenal, all from the full-back position but he made a Premier League record of going the longest period without a PL win – 24 games. His debut season only saw him play 12 games due to injury and was injured much of the season after.
It was during the 2010/11 season where Bale found fame. His return from injury saw him play on the left-wing due to the good form of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and the lack of wide options. It proved to be a masterstroke by then manager Harry Redknapp as Bale went from promising full-back to world-class winger.
Wenger said he opted to leave Bale due to his good left-back options at the time but had he got his man, he may never have played on the wing and Bale would not be the player he is today.
The first time Bale got global coverage was with his stunning Champions League hat trick against Inter Milan. From then on, the Welshman has simply got better and better and claimed all the individual honours this season already adding to the PFA Player of the Year award he won tow seasons ago.
Bale’s ability to sprint past almost anyone makes him a tricky winger but the precision of his crosses whilst running at full speed puts him a cut above the rest. His strength sees him rarely lose the ball and his eye for goals has help put Spurs on another level.
His trademark 25-yard screamers have become so common that they are now expected and his free kicks are almost perfect. He is still young and will improve even further which is why Real Madrid have been linked with a big money move for him.
Arsene Wenger looks at his squad and sees talented individuals but even he must confess that Bale is far greater than anyone he is currently in charge of and his decision to ignore Bale all those years ago has made his rivals the force they are today.