WHEN Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid in 2013 for a world-record fee, there was hope he has become the latest Galactico.
Four seasons on, has he lived up to expectations?
Or has he been overshadowed by the likes of Antoine Griezmann at city rivals Atletico Madrid?
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Football Whispers has a look at the stats to see which of the two has been more impressive since Bale moved to Spain.
Both stars are a target for Manchester United, with Real Madrid lining up a move for Griezmann, should Bale move back to the Premier League.
THE beginning of Bale’s life at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was marred by injuries, even if he did score on his debut against Villarreal.
But at the end of the campaign all that was forgotten after his sensational Copa del Rey winner in the 85th minute against Barcelona and his role in leading Madrid to La Decima, the club’s 10th European cup.
Bale scored the goal to make it 2-1 in the Champions League final against Atletico, in what ended up as a 4-1 victory.
Griezmann wasn’t yet at Atleti, but was showing the form that would make him the subject of a £24million move the following summer.
In his final season at Real Sociedad, he was impressing in their Champions League campaign too – scoring against Lyon to help them reach the group stage.
And in the league Griezmann was involved in 19 goals directly – scoring 16 and assisting three – in 35 games.
But Bale was directly involved in more goals in fewer LaLiga games – scoring 15 and assisting 15 in just 27 games.
The Welshman also created more chances per 90 minutes – 1.74 to 1.15, while winning more duels (49.8 per cent to 44.33 per cent) and having more success in take ons – completing 53.27 per cent to 38.33 per cent.
Griezmann had a higher shot accuracy (60 per cent to 43 per cent) and pass completion (77 per cent to 76 per cent).
THE 2014/15 season saw Griezmann make the switch from Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid for £24million.
The move was hugely successful and he was named as the only Atleti player in the Spanish team of the year.
And he won the only trophy he’s won in an Atletico Madrid shirt too, the Spanish Super Cup.
Bale’s season was mixed – he helped his side win the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, but was booed by his own fans for shooting instead of passing to Cristiano Ronaldo against Espanyol in January 2015.
He also played in more league games than the previous season – 31, where he was involved in 22 goals – scoring 13 and assisting nine more.
But in Griezmann’s first season in the Spanish capital he was directly involved in more goals directly – 23, scoring 22 and assisting just one – albeit in more games, 37.
In fact, his 22 goals saw him overtake Karim Benzema to become the top scorer in a single Spanish top-division campaign.
Once again Bale created more chances per 90 minutes (1.71 to 0.8), won more duels (51.29 per cent to 37.1 per cent) and had a better success rate in terms of take-ons – completing 54.62 per cent compared to 45.16 per cent.
But as in the previous season, Griezmann had a higher shot accuracy (57 per cent to 46 per cent) and pass accuracy (79 per cent to 78 per cent).
THE 2015/16 campaign was arguably Griezmann’s best in Atleti colours.
It saw him nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2016, as well as being named the La Liga Player of the Year.
He scored the crucial goal against to seal Los Rojiblancos’ path to the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
But he missed a penalty in the 1-1 draw.
Although he made up for it by scoring in the penalty shootout, Bale also scored and it was Real Madrid who once again went onto lift Europe’s premier club competition.
It was another injury-hit season for the Welshman though, who only played 23 league games.
He did manage an incredible 19 goals and 10 assists in them though.
Griezmann played in every one of his side’s 38 LaLiga games, scoring 22 and assisting five.
Bale came out on top if you compare the two n terms of goals per 90 minutes (0.99 to 0.65) and assists per 90 minutes (0.43 to 0.15).
And he also once again created more chances per 90 minutes (2.59 to 1.54), with a better take on success rate (59.15 per cent to 43.84 per cent) and a better rate in duels (winning 51.35 per cent to just 40.49 per cent)
And Bale also better Griezmann’s pass completion for the first time since arriving in Spain too – with 80 per cent compared to 78 per cent.
But it was the Frenchman who came out in top in terms of shooting accuracy, with 57 per cent of his efforts hitting the target, compared to the Real Madrid star’s 51 per cent.
THE current season has been a frustrating one for Bale.
While Real Madrid could complete a historic double in the league and the Champions League, injuries have once again meant he has played a bit part role – featuring just 19 times in the league.
And while his place was guaranteed as part of their famous BBC front three, Isco’s form means he may struggle to get back in the team even when fit.
Griezmann, once again, has been largely injury free, playing 35 of a possible 37 league games, and his form has seen him become a Manchester United transfer target, perhaps ahead of Bale, who since he arrived in Spain has also been heavily linked with Old Trafford.
Bale has just seven goals and two assists, while Griezmann has 16 goals and seven assists.
It’s by no means the best return from either of them, but for the first time, the Atleti man has overtaken the Real star per 90 minutes in terms of goals (0.49 to 0.44) and assists (0.21 to 0.13).
He also creates more chances (1.7 to 1.4) and has a better shot accuracy rate (60 per cent to 48 per cent).
The pair are tied with their pass completion rate – both at 78 per cent.
But Bale is still ahead in terms of take ons, winning 48.15 per cent to 46.94 per cent and duels, coming out on top in 52.41 per cent of his compared to Griezmann’s 42.86 per cent.
IF you look at the record in all competitions since Bale has arrived in Spain, he has 67 goals in 149 games.
Griezmann has 102 in 207.
The Frenchman needs slightly more game time to get a goal, but you know you can rely on him to stay fit.
Bale has played 58 fewer games in that time.
While Bale has beaten Griezmann every year in terms of take ons and duels, the Frenchman has overtaken him this year in terms of goals, chances created and assists per 90 minutes, as well as shot accuracy.
And while the Welshman may have won more in terms of team trophies – two Champions Leagues, a Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, compared to just a Spanish Super Cup – the Frenchman has been praised more individually.
He was named the best player in La Liga in 2016, also coming third in the Ballon d’Or.