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Saturday, 23 May 2015, 19:30

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Bale 'as big as CR7'

Gareth Bale's hat-trick against Valladolid shows that he can go on and become as big as Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, says Albert Ferrer.

Last Updated: 04/12/13 at 08:53 Post Comment

Bale, 24, netted a 'perfect hat-trick' - scoring a header, plus a goal with each foot - to propel Real to their sixth win in seven games since October's 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico.

The former Tottenham winger described the feat - achieved as Cristiano Ronaldo watched from the stands with a thigh strain - as a 'dream come true' and former Spanish defender Ferrer told Revista that Bale is fitting into the Real set-up perfectly.

"He has to be very strong mentally because he's gone to a big club where there is a big star like Ronaldo," said Ferrer, who won eight major honours with Barcelona from 1990-98.

"It's more or less like Neymar in Barcelona. You cannot go to a club like that and compete with the big stars - you have to be a part of the team and play a little bit better every game and be a little bit more important.

"So he doesn't need to fight with Ronaldo, he needs to complement him. Bale understood that and he's doing very well.

"He knows what he has to do in the club, he knows that in probably a couple of more years he will be as big as Cristiano Ronaldo but for now he needs to play his part.

"He can be a big as Cristiano Ronaldo because he's got a good quality - he's got strength, a good shot, he can score many goals, so why not?

"But the important thing in this moment is that he knows what he has to do in the team and he's doing it very well. He didn't sign for Real Madrid to create the game.

"He signed for Real Madrid to be like Ronaldo - very direct, scoring goals, getting into the box and having some shots. The build-up is for other players. But he's doing a great job at the moment."

Demanding

Bale admitted after the match that he still has plenty to learn about Spanish football and hopes to raise his game further once he's adjusted to playing in his adopted country.

Revista pundit Graham Hunter said that switching from the Premier League to La Liga was never going to be easy, but Bale had made the transition far more successfully than most because he had a long-term strategy.

"It was patently vital that he won over the fans," he reflected. "This is a demanding club. It was very important for him to win over Ronaldo to make sure there was no division, no jealousy - and he did that brilliantly.

"It isn't easy changing countries for your profession. For 18-20 months, Bale has known that when he moves he'll be going to Barcelona or Real Madrid.

"When Manchester United said to him and his agents in the summer 'we want to beat what Madrid are paying for you and we want to pay the same wages', he said 'no, I actively want to go to Real Madrid'.

"He has been planning, preparing mentally - therefore he's been ready for the cultural change, be it language, food or whatever. British players don't often make that jump easily but he's done it as a strategic process, so my respect for him is very, very high.

Learn

Bale has now scored eight goals and provided six assists - laying on the second goal against Valladolid, scored by Benzema, with a delicious, flighted ball - in his last seven games for Real in all competitions.

But Spanish football expert Guillem Balague insists there is still room for improvement.

"Bale doesn't participate in the build-up - that's done by [Luka] Modric, by [Angel] Di Maria (when he plays), by Isco, by Xabi Alonso - and he will learn to do that," he said.

"Sometimes a short pass is better than trying to beat a defender because at the moment he doesn't even beat defenders.

"What I'm saying is 'look at the room for improvement there is' - he hasn't got to the point yet where he understands the way Real Madrid plays and he's still got all those stats."

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