12 Oct 2015

Transfer Stunner: LFC Legend confirms Liverpool tried to sign 'incredible' £300k-a-week attacker. Loss?

Liverpool have missed out on some fantastic players over the years, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and David Silva, and according to Reds legend Jamie Carragher, Liverpool also had the chance to sign the world's most expensive player.

In his weekend column for the Daily Mail, Carra claimed:

"Rafa Benitez looked at signing him [Bale] for Liverpool. Bale was playing as a left back then and Rafa didn't think he was any better than John Arne Riise, so he never pursued it".

To be fair to Benitez, Bale - reportedly no £300k-a-week at Madrid - was a totally different player back then, and no one could've predicted that he'd become one of the world's top attacking players.

Additionally, Riise was, for the most part, superb for Liverpool, so at the height of his powers, it would've take a top-class left-back to replace him, and at Southampton, Bale definitely didn't fit that description.

In his article, Carra argued that 'incredible' Bale is on the way to becoming one of UK's greatest ever players, and his integral role in helping Wales qualify for Euro 2016 clearly adds weight to that view.

Whether he achieves that potential remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Bale - reportedly on £300k-a-week - is arguably a world-class player, even though he plays for one of the world's inferior international teams.

In my view, before a player can be deemed 'world-class', he/she must:

* Have a Specific, Measurable Impact (SMI) - at all three levels of football, which are: Domestic (national leagues); European (Champions League/Europa League, or worldwide equivalent); World (International - qualifying and/or tournaments).

* Push his/her team to relative success at all three levels.

Relative Success: OAL and SMI

* What is the the team's Optimum Achievement Level (OAL) in a given competition? In other words, considering the overall quality of players available, and relative strength of other teams, what is the absolute best the team can realistically expect to achieve?

* Causation: The player's causal contribution to his team's OAL. To what extend did the player in question help the team to meet its OAL? But for the player under consideration, would the team still have achieved its OAL?

* A variety of objective, position-specific criteria should be used when assessing the SMI of players. For example, for attacking players: Goals; assists; conversion rate; key passes; shot-assists; passing accuracy etc. For defenders: goals conceded; blocks; aerial duels won; tackle success rate etc.

Gareth Bale: World-Class?

Bale easily fulfills the above criteria:

* SMI at Domestic Level | SPURS: 74 goals/assists in 146 games; 2x Player of the Year awards; integral to Spurs' qualification for the Champions League. MADRID: 56 goals/assists in 62 games.

* SMI at European level | SPURS: 22 goals/assists in 28 CL/UEFA apps. MADRID: 13 goals/assists in 22 CL apps. 10 goals/assists in 12 CL games in 2013/14 (plus a goal in the final) = integral to Madrid's CL win.

* SMI at International level | 18 goals in 51 games (13 in World-Cup/Euro qualification). Scored 5 of Wales' 9 goals in the current qualification campaign.

* Wales OAL: Prior to this year, Wales had never qualified for the European Championships (and last qualified for the World Cup in 1958). As such, the team's OAL is (arguably) qualifying for a major tournament. Without Bale's 8 goals/assists during qualifying, Wales wouldn't have qualified for Euro 2016, so it's fair to say that Bale has played an integral role in helping Wales achieve its OAL.

With all this in mind, Bale is clearly 'world-class', ands in this respect, he's very similar to Kenny Dalglish, another world-class player whose goals and assists in qualification were integral to helping a Scotland (another small international team) qualify for major tournaments (World Cup: 1978 and 1982).

Some may disagree, but in the context of the definition outlined above, Bale is the UK's only (currently active) world-class player.

Author: Jaimie K



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