With the turn that Gareth Bale‘s Real Madrid career has taken in the last couple of years, it is perhaps easy to forget the impact he had earlier in his time in the Spanish capital.
Bale was signed by Real Madrid from Tottenham eight years ago for around 100 million euros. Two years ago, Los Blancos returned to the Premier League to bolster their attack with another big name signing, buying Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a similar fee.
With Hazard coming to the end of his second season in Madrid, let’s compare the first two seasons of these players in all white.
The Welshman’s record is pretty impressive, having won 13 trophies in eight years and four of those came early in his Real Madrid career.
In his first season, Bale helped Real Madrid lift the Copa del Rey and the Champions League and soon followed those up with the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
It was a very solid start and, in fact, Bale never scored as many goals in one season at Real Madrid as he did in his first, netting 22 in 44 games.
Across those first two years, Bale totalled 39 goals and 31 assist in 92 games across all competitions.
As for LaLiga Santander, Bale was involved in some intense title races in those early years, but would not become a league champion with Los Blancos until his fourth season.
The Belgian winger arrived at Real Madrid with expectations at least as high as those that accompanied Bale, but sadly injuries have been the key theme of his first two seasons in Spain.
Hazard has been limited to just 40 appearances, in which he has scored a mere four goals, while providing seven assists.
He has added a 2019/20 LaLiga Santander winners medal to his collection, but he played just 16 times in the league last season.
The 30-year-old has been unavailable more often than he has been available for Zinedine Zidane this season and has been absent for most of Los Blancos’ recent run of good domestic form.
That said, with four games to play and the winger, for now, back in contention, he could yet make it two from two in terms of league titles.
It is hardly a fair contest, owing to Hazard‘s injury problems, and Bale wins in just about every category.
The Welshman was on fire in his first season at Real Madrid, building upon the form that prompted the club to sign him in the first place.
Bale was also a key part of a very strong Real Madrid team, winning four trophies in two years and that number only wasn’t higher thanks to the extremely stiff competition they faced from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Hazard did something Bale didn’t in his first two years and won LaLiga Santander, but he played a small part in that success and it is worth noting that Real Madrid‘s points total last season would not have been enough to win the title in either of Bale‘s first two seasons.
It remains to be seen whether Hazard can turn things around in Madrid, but, at 30 years old, he is only a year and a half younger than Bale and time is not exactly on his side.
The Belgian may yet deliver for Los Blancos, but, comparing the first two seasons, there’s no question that Real Madrid got what they wanted from Bale, while Hazard has been a resounding disappointment.
The most worrying part for Madridistas is that even in his fleeting appearances, Hazard has looked a shadow of the player he was at Chelsea, while Bale managed to not only continue his Spurs form but improve as a player in Spain.
Hazard still has three years left on his contract at Real Madrid in which to convince, but Bale is a testament to how little patience players are afforded and the Belgian may have to start making a bigger impact soon or face a similar fate.