If Tottenham sell Gareth Bale they will also be selling their heart, their soul.. and a golden future
31 Jul 2013 07:30
But if they keep him, and prosper BECAUSE they keep him, maybe other wonderful players will want to join him at Spurs, writes Oliver Holt
As good as it gets: Spurs have one of the three most explosive footballers on earth in Bale As good as it gets: Spurs have one of the three most explosive footballers on earth in Bale
Common sense says Spurs should sell Gareth Bale.
Take the £80million or £90m or £100m Real Madrid are offering. Cash in.
Sell while the Welshman’s value is at its height and there is still time to bring in new players for the start of the season.
Take the money because, well, is anyone really worth that much?
Take the money because imagine how you will feel if Bale’s injury woes return and he only plays in fits and starts next season.
Take the money because £80m well invested might even give Tottenham a better chance of making the Champions League next term, than if they keep Bale.
Spend that £80m on two or three elite additions and Spurs might even be favourites to force their way into the top four ahead of Arsenal.
The money’s eye-watering, even in today’s climate. It could take Tottenham to the next level.
But despite all the logic, despite the feeling money always talks loudest in the end, it is hard to escape the feeling that, actually, Bale is priceless.
He is not Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is not far off.
And he plays not for Real Madrid or Barcelona or Bayern Munich or Manchester United, or one of the other giants of the European game, but for Tottenham.
Spurs have uncovered a jewel, one of the best players in the world.
If they sell, it might be a long, long time before they get another like him.
When was the last time Spurs had one of the best players in the world?
When Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne were at White Hart Lane 20 years ago, maybe?
When Jimmy Greaves was there 30 years before that? Ossie Ardiles, Jurgen Klinsmann? Maybe.
It doesn’t happen often. That’s the point.
And even though it’s hopelessly romantic, that’s why I hope Spurs don’t sell.
Because every other week, their fans get to sit on the edge of their seats and watch Bale do magic.
Every other week, they get to watch Bale do something special.
They get that feeling of anticipation when he gets the ball. They know that when the ball’s glued to his left foot, anything is possible: a dazzling run, a sizzling cross, an unstoppable shot.
There are other wonderful talents around but at the moment, apart from Ronaldo and Messi, none as explosive as the Welshman.
If Spurs sell now, are they ever going to attract anyone like him to White Hart Lane?
But if they keep him, and they prosper because they keep him, maybe others will want to come to Tottenham, too.
It’s already happening.
They broke their transfer record to sign Paulinho from Corinthians.
They are close to doing it again with their pursuit of Valencia’s Roberto Soldado.
What if they build around Bale, not without him?
What if they do what US sports teams often do with their prize assets?
Use Bale as the cornerstone, like the Chicago Bulls once did with Michael Jordan, and the Indianapolis Colts with Peyton Manning.
Different leagues, sure. Different conditions. Salary caps, drafts and the rest of it.
But the same principle applies.
That’s why I hope Spurs and their chairman Daniel Levy hold their nerve.
That’s why I hope Levy sticks to his guns, as he has before, and maintains that Bale is flat out not for sale.
Not because I want to deny Bale the chance to play for Real Madrid - I’ve no problem with his desire to play at the Bernabeu.
This is about Tottenham.
Because it feels as if Spurs are within touching distance of not being a selling club.
They are on the verge of something big.
Through the financial management of Levy and the football management of Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas, they are so close to not having to sell top players.
They are an ace away from not having to roll over if Manchester United come calling for a Dimitar Berbatov or a Michael Carrick - or if Madrid decide they would like to buy Luka Modric.
They’re tantalisingly near to being an established power in the English game.
And somehow, despite all the arguments to the contrary, it feels like selling Bale will move them further away from that goal, not closer to it.
How many top-line players would still be on the market once Bale has been sold?
Manchester City have done most of their business. So, too, Bayern and Barcelona.
Edinson Cavani’s at PSG, Radamel Falcao’s at Monaco, Neymar’s at Barcelona.
Most of the rest of the world’s top talents have already been signed up for the season ahead.
Sell Bale and you make an awful lot of money, sure.
Sell Bale and the people who play the percentages will tell you you’re doing the right thing.
Sell him and you don’t have to worry about the fact he may struggle to replicate the feats of last season.
But sell him and you lose something you can never replace. Sell him and you lose the magic.
Sell him and that feeling a Spurs fan gets when Bale receives the ball and moves it on to his left foot is gone for ever.