North London derby or not, yesterday was a case of another game and yet another goal for Tottenham Hotspur’s magnificent Gareth Bale. In what’s becoming almost standard procedure these days, it would appear that even if he’s not quite the star of the show as he has been in recent games, the Welshman is still ensuring that the headline writers find some way of fixing his name into bright lights.
The downside to possessing one of the most in-form players within European football is of course the subsequent attention that they’re going to receive from prospective suitors. And unless you’ve been hiding underneath a rock for the past few weeks, it’ll come as no surprise to see Gareth Bale’s name being linked with some of the biggest clubs on the continent.
Indeed, the amount of column inches devoted to a potential departure for the ex-Southampton man at the end of the season has become both a tiring and a boring read for fans in the white half of North London. Yet despite accepting such stories as something of a necessary evil in owning such a gifted talent, it’s also continued to cause its fair share of anxiety in N17.
But as strange as it sounds, while a potential Bale departure is hardly going to have supporters jumping for joy, it’s equally not something that they should be losing sleep about, either.
Let’s be under no illusions here; if Bale sustainably turns in the performances that he has done over the last couple of months and, heaven forbid for the opposition, manage to improve aswell, then he will eventually leave White Hart Lane. 99% of the time, the world’s best players usually tend to end up at the world’s best clubs.
Is Gareth Bale one of the world’s best players? On the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he may not be – not now, perhaps not ever. But as far as the best of the rest goes, the 23-year-old doesn’t’ have too many peers on current form and if he does manage to develop his game and push on even further, then Spurs are perhaps entering uncharted territory in terms of possessing a player of his quality.
Considering he’s currently already on a different plateau of performance to most of the Premier League as it is, what’s the next level for him to attain? It’s always dangerous to pre-empt what might happen, but with ten league games remaining, Bale is only four goals short of a 20-goal top flight haul. If he goes on to, say, hit 25 goals or dare you say even beyond, next season, it will become almost impossible to argue with the notion of him being one of Europe’s best footballers. That’s if you don’t classify him to be in that very exclusive club of players, already.
The elephant in the room here is of course, he might not be at White Hart Lane next season to do so. Although even though there is the capacity for him to depart this summer, you can’t help but feel that it’s becoming increasingly likely that he will stay at the club for at least another season. And even if he doesn’t, what’s the worst case scenario?
Should he pack his bags and leave, Tottenham are going to receive an outrageous amount of money in order for a deal to stick. It’s always incredibly difficult to gauge a potential figure in a proposed deal such as Bale’s, although it seems generally accepted that the worst figure chairman Daniel Levy can hope to walk away with is near on £50million.
Now some will suggest that selling your best players isn’t much of a selling point to any potential new recruits, but selling Bale isn’t anything like selling a Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov or a Luka Modric. Yes, it would be weakening the side and yes, it would be a massive blow to all connected to the club.
But there are only a handful of clubs in the world that could think about hanging onto a player like Bale. Even Manchester United failed to hang on to Cristiano Ronaldo fresh after winning their 18th league title. For as great a club as Tottenham Hotspur are, they’ll never be a Real Madrid or a Barcelona and supporters must be realistic in regards to his long-term future.
Although while achieving Champions League football would greatly aid the club in reinvesting any return on selling Bale, it’s also the most crucial tool they have in persuading him to stay at Spurs. And should they do so, there’s no reason to think why Gareth Bale would necessarily be in any rush to move on this summer.
For as good as he may currently be, Bale is still only 23-years-old. He’s currently playing for a club that is set-up to exert the very maximum out of him and one that’s slowly beginning to base themselves around his eclectic gifts, if they haven’t done so already. His age suggests there’s still room for even further development and it also dictates that there isn’t any rush for him to fling himself into a much harsher environment.
There are few teams better set-up to cater towards that growth than Tottenham Hotspur and in Andre Villas-Boas, Bale is thriving under a manager who has managed to catalyse his game into one that cultivates goals and the Welshman will be mindful of that. On a personal level, he can almost certainly expect to see his wage-packet rise should he stay and with the recent birth of his daughter, it’s been reported that he’s more than open to delaying a move abroad for the time being.
Only time will tell whether Gareth Bale will leave Spurs this summer. But while his ultimate destiny may lie abroad, his future – for the time being, anyway – may well lie at White Hart Lane.