The Premier League remains the most competitive league in European football, but questions surrounding whether Ryan Giggs is the best Welshman to play in the top-flight in England have recently re-emerged. There have been a lot of talented players to have represented Wales and played their football in England, including Gary Speed, Craig Bellamy and Mark Hughes.
But, there is always one player that poses a serious threat to Giggs as the best Welshman to play in England, and that is Gareth Bale. But, is Bale a credible challenger to that honour?
Comparing Best Individual Seasons
Gareth Bale’s best season for Tottenham Hotspur came in his final season with the club in 2012-13. The winger played 33 games in the Premier League in that season, and scored an impressive 21 goals and made nine assists. At the time Bale was boosting enough pace to rival a stallion among the Kentucky Derby contenders.
Bale was frightening in that season for Spurs, and he made the reach new levels. However, his efforts still ended in disappointment for Spurs, as they were only able to finish fifth. They were also knocked out in the Fourth Round of both the FA Cup and League Cup.
Spurs were playing Europa League football in that season, with Bale playing eight times. He scored three goals and made three assists for Spurs, but they were ultimately knocked out of the competition at the quarterfinal stage by Basel. However, Bale’s individual performances that season were staggering, and that pushed Real Madrid to make their £85 million move for him.
As for Giggs’ best season, the stats would say that season would have been the 1995-96 campaign. In that season he played 33 games for United, and scored eleven goals and made nine assists. Both totals were lower than the numbers recorded by Bale in his best season, but it is worth remembering that Giggs went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup double for United in that campaign.
Giggs also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in the 2008-09 season, despite the fact that he only scored two goals and made seven assists in that season.
Bale gave everything to help Spurs win a trophy and achieve a finish in the Champions League places, but he left Tottenham having failed to deliver a piece of silverware. The closest he came was in the 2008-09 season as Spurs were beaten in the League Cup final by Manchester United.
Undoubtedly, he has achieved success during his time with Real Madrid, as he has been an important player in their four Champions League successes.
During his time in England, Bale did win a number of individual awards, most notably the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 2010-11 and 2012-13. He also won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2012-13.
Success was achieved every season for Giggs, as he won 13 Premier League titles during his career with Manchester United. He also won four FA Cups and three League Cups. Giggs was also a vital player in the two Champions League successes that United had under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Individual awards have also followed, as he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in successive years between 1992 and 1993, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year on six occasions. His most prestigious accolade came in 2009 when he was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Is It A Fair Comparison?
It almost seems unfair to compare the two legends, as they have both excelled in the Premier League. When assessing the stats, it’s impossible to say that Giggs was a superior player as the number that Bale was drawing in was mesmerising, but Giggs had a huge impact on a team that created a dynasty under Sir Alex Ferguson.
People undervalue Giggs’ role in that United team, but it would be difficult to have seen them achieve that success without the Welshman playing for the club.
Image Credit: Daily Mirror