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Bale vs. Giggs at 23

Bale and Giggs similar but who will be better? 
How ironic it is that as one great Welshman was starting his steady decline with the sport another was slowly rising from the shadows? The similarities are spooky, both were born in Cardiff, both wear the number 11, both play on the left wing and both at one time or another have been considered the best in Britain.

 Both Bale, 23 and Giggs 39, scored on the weekend, both are at completely different stages of their careers  Giggs will potentially play his 1000th game of football this weekend, While Bale will be looking to put Arsenal to the sword, in a crucial North London derby. If you look back at the last 10 spurs goals Bale has scored 7 of them. The cries are raining down from opposition fans of "One man team!" with some "crazy fools" (excuse me Mr.T) like me even claiming he's as good as Ronaldo.

But who's the best? Wales needs an answer! obviously its a non contest now with Giggs' age getting the better of him, so lets rewind Giggs back 16 years and compare where they were at 23 years and 7 months...

This would take us back to 1997 the year that Dolly was cloned, Blair became prime minister and Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was published, for Ryan Giggs, He is yet to score the wonder-goal in the FA Cup semi against Arsenal or win the triple with United which both occurred in 99'. But he was an integral part of a brilliant United team and was the youngest player ever to play for Wales (a record he lost in 98'). In fairness despite being a constant it was the goal in 99' that really put Giggs on the map as one of the greatest players in Britain, the equivalent to Bale's Hat-trick vs. Inter Milan in 2010.

A younger Giggs, spent money on combs
Giggs played consistently well at a much younger age than Bale, by the age of 19 he was in the first team for United week in week out and by 94' he scored the most goals he has ever scored in one season with 13. In fact this statistic highlights Giggs' biggest weakness, although consistent he has never reached the dizzy heights of being a top goalscoring. The simple fact is he hasn't needed to... Cantona, Sheringham, Cole, Yorke, Hughes, Van Nistelrooy and Rooney, prove that United have been blessed with goalscoring talent every year Giggs has been at the club. In fact in 94' when Giggs scored his 13 goals he was United's second top goalscorer and helped relieve the pressure off fellow Welshman Hughes who was struggling for goals. This sums up Giggs when he's needed, he will step up and be counted.
Giggs holding the Premier League trophy aloft
Giggs recently signed a new one year deal with United meaning he should play at the ripe old age of 40 for them next season an incredible feat, he is already the oldest outfield player, post second world war to play for United, although he will have to play onto the 2014/15 season to beat Edwin Van der Sar's overall record.

Like Giggs in 94' Bale has suddenly had to step up his goal-scoring form to help his misfiring team mates, Tottenham have been struggling with goals from their strikers, with Defoe and Adebayor contributing just 12 goals this season between them (Defoe with 10 of them) With Defoe's recent injury Bale like Giggs stepped up and was counted, scoring an array of world class goals and beating at least 2 players every time he picked up the ball. Bale is now the 3rd top goalscorer in the country with 15, not bad with still a third of the season to go and being a left winger. His performance against West Ham was one of the most dominate I have ever witnessed from a single player and made me reminisce of watching Bastian Schweinsteiger destroy England and Argentina with his passing in the 2010 World Cup.

Bale's been in top form for Tottenham this season
Bale's start of his career at Spurs was torrid. when he moved from Southampton at the age of 18 for £7 million he was played at left back a position that never utilised he abilities with shooting and often left him terrified to run at opponents just in case he was caught out of position. He was put down as a flop and was almost sold to Birmingham, Nottingham Forest or West Ham for £3 Million in January 2010. He was in a run of bad form and hadn't been on the winning side for spurs in a mammoth 24 attempts. He was moved to the left wing and put in a man of the match performance against Chelsea and scored against arch rivals Arsenal. Later that year he scored a hat-trick against Inter Milan in a 4-3 defeat and made world class Brazilian defender Maicon look as slow as a herd of snails travelling through peanut butter.

Bales recent form is reminiscent of Giggs around the same age, I think he may progress more and become the better player. However this will cost him a few years at the end of his career that Giggs has smartly used. Although very similar they have very different mind sets, Bale will probably beat a lot of goalscoring records for a midfield wide man and may play for one of Europe's top teams but will reach nowhere near the height of Giggsy's appearances and age.

Giggs today signed a one year contract extension
 So the answer to my question is... at 23 years and 7 months both were getting world wide recognition for their performances and both were at a very similar level, Bale probably edges the statistical side of things with more goals in all competitions in a lot less games. Bale's sudden rise is really put into perspective when you realise Giggs hit footballing puberty a lot earlier than Bale. In the next few years Bale will have the chance to show us what heights he can hit and if he gets even half the trophies and medals Giggs received he will be incredibly happy. So really what do you want? The footballing longevity and consistency in Giggs or 8 more years of Bale's pace, speed, power and panache. It sure is a tricky one.

In other Bale news

Who's who? McEvoy and Bale
A quick one for all those that need something to brighten up their day. Look at the picture and see if you can tell a difference, one is Tottenham youth prospect Kenny McEvoy and the other is Gareth Bale, both play left wing and both look almost identical. Maybe Spurs are just playing Bale in the under 18's for match practice eh?

James Cartwright (TFHB) 1/3/13 Follow me on twitter: @James_H_C

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