And following Andre Villas-Boas’ recent confession that much of the Welshman’s future now hangs on whether the club can attain Champions League qualification for next season, that gorilla has now morphed into a figure of King Kong like proportions in N17.
Certainly, if the proverbial head was buried in the sand before last week, then the reality that surrounds Bale’s future is now somewhat unavoidable.
For all intents and purposes, Villas-Boas’ recent admission that the ‘information’ he’d received about Bale’s future, was only confirming what many Spurs fans had suspected for some time now; the only difference now being that fans have received something along the lines of the first official acknowledgement from the club’s hierarchy.
And while the general picture painted in Fleet Street is that of a set of supporters loosing countless nights sleep over the matter, the truth is that Spurs fans take a far more pragmatic view upon Bale’s protracted departure then many might think.
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Even if he does stay for another campaign in N17, the feeling is that it’s a matter of when, as opposed to if the former-Southampton starlet leaves the club. For as much as supporters love their club, they know they can never offer Bale the grandeur that comes with playing for a Real Madrid or a Bayern Munich – should he continue his development at the rate he’s going at the moment, that is surely a level which the Welshman is destined to progress onto.
Yet while fans may be resigned to Bale’s eventual departure, no one connected with the club wants to loose his eclectic talents before they have to and should he waltz off into the sunset following yet another failure to attain Champions League football, his potential departure will feel wholly premature.
With Spurs’ destiny this season still very much hanging in the balance, while Villas-Boas’ side could quite easily still qualify for the Champions League, the stark reality of failing to do so for yet another season is one that the club are going to have to face up to.
And if Villas-Boas’ recent statement is to be taken at face value, then such a failure will bring with it some serious ramification for Bale’s future. But should the Welshman leave at the end of the season, what’s really the worst-case scenario for Spurs?
Clearly, for however you wish to frame it, Spurs are going to be severely weakened by the loss of what is not only their finest footballer, but also their most potent goal threat by quite some distance. For whatever the financial compensation – be it £40million, £50million or even £60million plus – even if you shelve Bale’s box-office and enduring stardust, Andre Villas-Boas’ side will be set to loose 24 goals from what is a side that is already dreadfully anemic in attack.
But should the club’s hand be forced and Bale seek an exit route this summer, any possible framework to a deal should be based upon ensuring Spurs aren’t just compensated well from a financial point of view, but ultimately a sporting one, too.
And the emphasis must be for the club to replace the goalscoring prowess that the Welshman has almost single handedly carried this term, as opposed to getting too obsessed with trying to replace his star power.
There is a feeling that should Spurs hit the jackpot for their prized asset, for all the financial rewards that the 23-year-old might net the club, the chances are that not every single penny is likely to filter through to the first-team squad, such is the need to revaluate the finances in light of the Northumberland Development Project. But should Bale go to what many expect to be his most likely transfer destination in Real Madrid that might not necessarily be a problem.
With a price tag of £60million, first and foremost, even if not all the funds were eventually ploughed into the transfer kitty, Spurs would be able to acquire a couple of genuinely top-class players should Madrid or anyone else be willing to front up cash.
But with the Spanish club rumoured to be willing to use one of Gonzalo Higuain or even the vaulted Angel Di Maria to make a deal stick, Spurs would be wise to consider all options before simply demanding a straight up cash deal.
Because while the focus so often in a box-office transfer is one fixated upon the notion of a price tag, Tottenham can’t get too caught up in the prospect of breaking records and squeezing pennies out of the deal if there is the opportunity to seize an instant fix to the amount of goals they’d be shedding should they sell Bale.
If the opportunity to seize Higuain is a realistic option, then Spurs would be foolish to not demand the Argentine be part of any deal that sees Bale move to the Santiago Bernabeu. With over 100 goals scored for one of the best sides in the world, experience in winning titles and playing in the Champions League and still only 25, Higuain is the perfect player to fill the goalscoring hole that Bale would leave in this side.
Is he the same sort of player as Bale? Of course not, but even if Spurs do go looking for a direct replacement for him, they’re not going to find it. The emphasis on any deal that sees the Welshman leave must be on replacing the goals that he’s scored – not the star power.