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Jul 132013

Bale 300x199 Take the money and run: Why Tottenham should cash in on Bale this summer

The Gareth Bale to Real Madrid transfer saga is set to run for the remainder of the summer, with Tottenham and Andre Villas Boas continuing to insist the player is not for sale.  Conventional wisdom says that Bale will give Spurs one more year before answering the calls from Florentino Perez and Zinedine Zidane to join Los Blancos, or even nouveau riche PSG, who have reportedly entered the race to sign the player.  Parallels could certainly be drawn with the summer before Christiano Ronaldo’s last season an Manchester United. The two players undoubtedly have many similarities, both in terms of style of play and image.  So perhaps it makes sense for Spurs to ask last year’s PFA player of the year to give them one more great season, push his stock even higher, get the club into the Champions League, and then reinvest Bale’s transfer fee to strengthen the squad.

Yet there is reason for Spurs to seriously consider cashing in on Bale this summer, with PSG willing to outbid Madrid with an astronomical fee of up to £85 million, as reported by the Daily Mail.  The Welsh international has increased his goal output from 11, to 12, to 26 goals in all competitions the last three seasons; comparable to Ronaldo’s return of 9, 12, and 23 goals in a similar stretch of his career.  However, the Portuguese international was 22-years-old at this point in his career, while Bale will turn 24 in a few days time.  Furthermore, there is no guarantee that Bale will go onto score the 42 goals in all competitions Ronaldo managed in his next season.

Though Bale is an incredible athlete possessing great pace and capable of single-handedly winning games with his direct play, I get the sense that he is nearing his ceiling as a player, at least at Tottenham, as ridiculous as that might sound considering his age and the season he had.  The reason I say this is that players who base their game around great athleticism or speed sometimes fail to develop in other aspects of their game.  Michael Owen springs to mind.  The same could be said of very left footed players.

Now I am not saying Bale is necessarily set to become the next Arjen Robben, whose one dimensional play can be both scintillating and frustrating in equal measure.  The Welshman has clearly been working on improving his overall play under AVB, playing well in a central, free role this season for Spurs, with his ability to score with his head, right foot, and from free kicks all showcased this campaign.  Nevertheless, in the area of assists , Bale could improve, recording only four assists in the league while playing as winger/attacking midfielder.  This statistic is indicative of the fact that Tottenham have increasingly looked like a one man team, and if the club do not bring in a real quality striker and/or midfielder this summer, other clubs in the Premier League will start to focus exclusively on shutting Bale down, as happened to Spurs on occasion this past season.

As great as a player as Bale is, I find it hard to believe he will be able to significantly raise his level of play this coming season, especially when he finds other teams setting up to stop him from being able to run into space every time he takes the field.  It would make sense for Bale’s development as a player to make a move to a club where he will be able to play Champions League football now, not sometime in the future, and be surrounded with truly world-class teammates.  A move outside of England would allow the the Spur’s winger to assimilate new ideas from the continent, perhaps under the tutelage of a manager of the stature of Carlo Ancelloti, and develop parts of his game not emphasized in the always entertaining but not always technical or tactical Premier League.

For these reasons, it makes most sense, both for Bale and Tottenham, for him to leave this summer, as the amount of money reportedly being offered is not guaranteed to still be at the same level in a years time.  Injuries happen, players lose form, sometimes its hard to keep the same level of desire when a club like Real Madrid is  courting you.  I believe Gareth Bale is a great player and will have a very successful career barring injury; however, to me he lacks the insatiable hunger for success, supreme self confidence, flair, exceptional technique and uncanny finishing ability to one day be in the top one or two players in the world, like Christiano Ronaldo.  Therefore, my advice to Daniel Levy would be take the Ronaldo level money now with Bale’s stock unlikely to increase substantially in a year, and reinvest in some key positions to make Spurs a more balanced, complete team capable of securing a Champions league berth.




Ben Hastings

Starting following football avidly after the 2006 World Cup, I try to watch as many different leagues as I can but follow the Premier League, Serie A, and MLS most closely as well as La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and Eredivisie when I get the chance. I am from Seattle and am a big Sounders and USMNT fan. I am currently attending university.

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