Gareth Bale. A few years ago few would have predicted that the Welshman would be even mentioned in the same sentence as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, let alone being compared to the two. But yes, with some quite amazing performances in the Premier League and Champions League, people have dared to compare.
But is he really on par with the current worlds greatest? Let us compare.
Little Argentine Lionel Messi has won the last four Ballon d'Or awards, a record, he broke the all time goal scoring record in a one year period by scoring an incredible 92. This season for Barcelona, in 22 La Liga appearances Messi has scored 34 and set up 8 goals.
Slightly west of Barcelona you'll find Madrid, home to Portuguese sleaze Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro or 'CR7' if you are a tool. Since joining the 'Galácticos' from Manchester United, Ronaldo has scored an incredible 133 goals in 122 games. The former world player of the year is not all about goals, his sublime skill, pace and technique is second to none.
Then we come to Gareth Bale who's stats on paper do not compare. Since joining Tottenham from Southampton, Bale has scored 32 goals in 134 appearances for the north London side. The only notable personal honours Bale has been awared with are UEFA team of the year in 2011, Football League young player of the year in 2007 and Wales' sports personality of the year in 2011 - where he pipped Danny Gabbidon to the award.
However as every football fan knows, The Beautiful Game is not all about stats and figures. It's about consistency and performing when it matters. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are almost a guarunteed certain each week to pop up with a goal or to, whereas Bale comes and goes.
Is this because the quality of La Liga is lower than that of the Premier League? Not in my opinion. If you put Gareth Bale in a Barcelona or Real Madrid shirt in La Liga, would he pop up with 50-60 goals a season? No.
However, if you put Bale in a team around the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Khedira it would certainly improve him as a player no doubt, but still he'd be some way off the world's number one and two.
Gareth Bale certainly has the potential to reach the level that Messi and Ronaldo reach, but until he leaves White Hart Lane he has little chance of picking up a Ballon d'Or. Consistency is the key and at the moment, this is what Bale lacks and the former have in abundance.