Gareth Bale 'no Cristiano Ronaldo clone'
Real Madrid assistant coach Paul Clement has brushed aside suggestions that Gareth Bale is the next Cristiano Ronaldo.
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Madrid, who broke the world transfer record in 2009 when luring Ronaldo, 28, to the Santiago Bernabeu from Manchester United, also spent heavily when signing Bale, 24, from Tottenham in the summer.
Given that the pair have followed a similar career path and can play in similar roles on the pitch, many have claimed that the Wales international is just a clone of the former Sporting Lisbon player.
Clement, however, disagrees and feels the duo each have their own individual strengths and attributes.
“Listen, there are similarities, no question: both are good with dead balls, both are wingers who score an incredible amount of goals, both are athletes,” he told the Guardian.
“But I think Gareth comes in between the lines more. Cristiano is very direct in his style, whereas Gareth will come inside and play combinations. He'll look to slide balls into others. Ronaldo is very direct.
"Football is simple: there is a goal and you have got to try to put the ball in it. And I think that's exactly what Cristiano thinks."
Clement, who worked under Carlo Ancelotti at both Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain before following the Italian to Madrid in the summer, has been impressed by Bale’s work ethic since his arrival at the Bernabeu.
"What I like about him is that he's down-to-earth in the dressing room. He's quiet, he's humble. On the training field he knuckles down. He's young still so it's very exciting. He's coachable,” he said.
"Gareth wants to improve. A couple of games ago, he got into good scoring positions and wasn't finishing. So the next day he says: 'can we do extra shooting?' After training, he's one of the last to leave, whether it's having additional treatment, the gym, or ice baths. His food is right. He's a very, very good professional.”
Despite having been a No. 2 for most of his career, also working briefly under Steve Kean at Blackburn, Clement does have ambitions to move into management.
The 41-year-old says he is in no rush, however, and is happy to bide his time coaching at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
"There were a couple of opportunities, including one abroad and one in the Championship," he said. "But I was really excited about coming here. It's an ambition [to be head coach] but I'll stay here as long as I can. It's a great experience to work at this level: it's the pinnacle."