Dennis Bergkamp vs Gareth Bale: Assessing who was better in their prime

Tom Gott
Bale was exceptional in his first stint at Tottenham
Bale was exceptional in his first stint at Tottenham

North London has seen some outstanding footballers in years gone by, and Dennis Bergkamp and Gareth Bale are both up there among the finest.

Bergkamp spent 11 years at Arsenal between 1995 and 2006, effortlessly creating some of the Premier League's greatest highlights of all time en route to winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

Bale did not match that amount of silverware during his seven years with Spurs, but his highlight reel was no less impressive. His run to becoming the first €100m player ever is one that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

With all that in mind, let's take a look at which player can claim to be better than the other.


Gareth Bale
Bale has a great eye for goal / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Neither player can be classified as an out-and-out goalscorer, but both bring an outstanding eye for goal when presented with a chance to find the back of the net.

Bergkamp's numbers were stunning in the Eredivisie but faded when he moved to England and Italy, whereas Bale has showcased a real ability to rack up goals in any top division.

The former Arsenal star was more focused on setting up goals for Thierry Henry and friends, so for this category, you've got to go with Bale.


Dennis Bergkamp
Bergkamp was a unique playmaker / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Bale's great at setting up his team-mates, but if you could only have one of these two pulling the strings for you, you'd have to go with Bergkamp.

The Non-Flying Dutchman was just so unique. He wasn't the best passer of the ball, but still managed to pick out every pass needed from him, and his movement to create space for those around him was sublime.

Bale is excellent at charging down the wing and finding a team-mate with a cross, but Bergkamp had his own level of creativity.


Dennis Bergkamp
Fast footwork was one of Bergkamp's top traits / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

These two have different ways of beating their man. Bergkamp would use clever movement and deft touches, whereas Bale relies on his pace and athleticism to undo his opponents.

Both styles can throw up some unreal highlights. For Bale, his solo goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey back in 2014 and his breakout charge against Inter in 2010 are some of the best moments of the past ten years, but Bergkamp just has the edge here.

The Dutchman was never scared to bring out a flick or a trick when needed, but crucially, every dribble he embarked on had been analysed in his head beforehand. He knew the amount of speed, strength and flair needed to beat each and every opponent, and the results were absolutely astonishing.


Gareth Bale
Bale was unstoppable on his day / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Up against a man famous for his ability to see the game in slow motion, it comes as no surprise that Bale has the edge over Bergkamp when it comes to athleticism.

Unlike your average forward, Bale's body has not chosen between speed and strength. The Welshman has both attributes in abundance and is not scared of going shoulder-to-shoulder with a defender because he knows he'll be past them in the blink of an eye anyway.

Bergkamp beat you with the speed of his mind, whereas Bale was all about the raw power.