Is it time for Tottenham Hotspur to cash in?

Gareth Bale, Tottenham HotspurWith further insinuations that Tottenham’s Gareth Bale could soon be set for a move to Real Madrid, for a huge £56million fee, it raises an interesting question that no doubt many a fan have had on football manager – is it time to cash in?

The first question that needs answering is whether the Welsh winger is actually worth such a large transfer fee. Well, I guess you’re worth whatever someone is willing to pay for you, but from an analytical perspective, does Bale rightly warrant his apparent price-tag?

In my opinion, he probably does. It’s no secret the rapid progression Bale has made since arriving at White Hart Lane from Southampton back in 2007. Originally considered a defender who can take free-kicks, the 23 year old has developed into one of the most fearsome attacking-minded players in the Premier League, having adapted his exceptional technique from dead-ball situations into his all round play, not to mention his sudden and dramatic increase in pace a few seasons ago which added a whole new dimension to his game.

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Not only has he been racking up the goals from out wide, with his record improving year-upon-year, but the fact Bale is the complete package makes him a more valuable prospect than some of his counter-parts that are vastly limited in comparison when it comes to defending. The underlying characteristic to his game however, which underpins all of the Welshman’s other abilities, is his incredible engine. Bale constantly moves with play up and down the left flank, and is Tottenham’s most profitable outlet when counter-attacking. Furthermore, at full speed the left winger appears almost impossible to dispossess without fouling – apart from luring him into a theatrical dive.

But, if £56million is a fair valuation for player already considered the best left-sided attacker in the Premier League despite the fact he is still a few years short of entering into his peak capability as a footballer, should Tottenham sell, hold out for more, or do whatever they can to hang onto him?

Considering some of the more recent transfers, and the Premier League’s lusting addiction to money, Spurs should really be bleeding Real Madrid dry on this deal. The La Liga champions have only recently pinched the club’s most talented player in Luka Modric, and although Spurs have spent the most part of the money wisely, a team challenging for a top four place will always miss the presence of such a high-quality footballer.

Furthermore, consider some of the recent transfer deals. In the past, £20million plus fees were privy to the world’s elite, with a few big-money signings that turned out be stinkers. But with the influx of foreign owners and the continuing growth in wealth of World Football, rank and file squad members can still dictate a fee of £20million or more. Joleon Lescott is a classic example. Similarly, youngsters that have done nothing to prove themselves apart from a string of half decent performances, such as Adam Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll (anyone else notice that they’re all English?), have cost their new clubs an arm and a leg.

Therefore, considering the nature of the English transfer market, as well as the fact Bale has already proven his capability, having played in the Premier League for six years and has also featured in the Champions League where he ran riot against Maicon –an experienced World Cup winner and regarded as one of the best full-backs of his generation – the Spurs board should be looking for more than £56million for a player who will undoubtedly be successful at the Bernebeu, with little risk of failure.

Then again, £56million would be a more than useful transfer kitty for Andre Villas-Boas, and could be enough to finally allow Tottenham to make a serious bid towards challenging for the title, although they still have a long way to go before they will become consistently competitive for league positions with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. AVB has installed a new philosophy on his Spurs team, but bringing Jaoa Moutinho to the club would finally give him an on-pitch general to marshall those around him into performing in the style AVB is attempting to bring to White Hart Lane.

Similarly, the sale of Modric allowed for the arrival of Moussa Dembele and Hugo Lloris, who will undoubtedly be a big part of the club’s future, in which they hope to move forward and up the table. Future arrivals acquired by the Bale fund could also solidify the team’s weaker areas for years to come.

However, Gareth Bale’s departure would leave a huge hole in the team and a big share of his transfer fee would surely go towards replacing him, which would be no easy feat considering his performances and tactical importance to the first team. And furthermore, Tottenham aren’t in dire need of cash. Daniel Levy is rumoured to be providing AVB £20million in January to bring in some new recruits, with the most likely targets being reportedly being Willian or Moutinho. So perhaps, if Spurs can push on this season and get into the top four, adding some higher quality players to their squad, the pull from the Bernebeu would be somewhat blunted.

Then again, it is hard to believe Gareth Bale would be willing to spend his entire career at White Hart Lane. At some point, he will outgrow the club unless they rapidly progress in terms of resources and getting into the Champions League. Maybe this summer will be the perfect opportunity to say goodbye. It would be a transfer hugely unpopular with the fans, but the long-term benefits give Spurs more of a chance of becoming a title-challengers than simply keeping their winger as the driving force behind their team. In a few years, Bale may appear to be worth a lot more than £56million, but whether the club will manage to keep him for that long remains to be seen.