Hughes and Woodgate show Pleat’s Bale comments are justified

For overseas footballers, moving abroad to ply their trade is almost second nature and it would be easy to lose count of the number of teenage foreigners that are already on the books of Premier League clubs.

However, English players rarely move abroad, especially young ones, and David Pleat feels that at the age of 24 Gareth Bale is still too young to take such a step and would be better off waiting one more year.

And based on those to have moved overseas previously Pleat may have a point, with next year seeming to make more sense for the Welshman to up sticks.

Below are three players to have moved at Bale’s age or younger and each have had moderate success at best, with another three to have moved at age 25 that have enjoyed a far more fruitful experience.

Mark Hughes

Hughes was still only 22 when he left Manchester United for Barcelona, with Terry Venables believing he could form the ideal strike partnership at the Nou Camp with Gary Lineker.

However, he managed just four goals in 28 appearances and was eventually sold back to Man Utd, where he recovered his scoring touch under new manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Laurie Cunningham

Cunningham became the first British player to transfer to Real Madrid in 1979 and his success does offer some hope to Bale that a switch to the Bernabeu could be a success.

He was only 23 when leaving West Brom but helped Madrid claim the league and cup double in Spain in his first season.

Persistent injuries largely hindered the remainder of his stay though and he was eventually sold to Marseille.

Jonathan Woodgate

Woodgate was 24, like Bale, when leaving England for Real Madrid and he was always fighting an uphill battle after scoring an own goal and getting sent off on his debut.

He was even voted the worst signing of the 21st century by one leading sports daily publication in Spain and ended up returning to England with Middlesbrough.

David Platt

Platt may have been relegated after moving to Bari from Aston Villa at the age of 25, but 11 goals from midfield in his debut season in a league where goals were largely tough to come by was more than a respectable achievement.

These performances earned him bigger moves to both Juventus and Sampdoria.

Gary Lineker

Lineker was closing in on his 26th birthday when he joined Barcelona following success at the 1986 World Cup when securing the Golden Boot.

This success continued at the Nou Camp when he netted 21 goals in his debut season at a rate of a goal every two games. A memorable hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Real Madrid was a particular highlight.

Lineker’s time at Barcelona also brought a European Cup Winners’ Cup medal.

John Charles

Having set all sorts of scoring records at Leeds, Charles headed to Juventus at the age of 25 and immediately made an impact with a goal on his debut.

Charles finished Serie A top scorer in his first season, won the title in three of his five years at Juventus and in total notched 93 goals in 155 appearances for The Old Lady.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.


Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.