Harry Redknapp insists Gareth Bale is happy at Tottenham Hotspur and that there is no substance to rumours of a Barcelona move.
Probably frustratingly for the White Hart Lane boss, Bale has admitted it would be hard to turn down a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Earlier this week Dani Alves claimed that the winger would be perfect for the club from Catalonia and would fit seamlessly into the team as a left full-back.
Spurs fans probably don’t want to hear it, but Bale should be encouraged to pursue his career abroad, and a move to the world’s best club is as good as it gets.
It should not end with Bale, many more players from the British Isles should move abroad to test their skills in other climes.
There have only been a few players from these islands that have taken the step to further themselves abroad, which is a shame because we have seen how foreign players coming to the Premier League has helped their overall success.
A number of the players that have taken this step have benefitted greatly and all home nations could benefit on an international level.
There is not a great tradition of British players doing this, but names such as John Charles, Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle and Steve McManaman are ones that most football fans form these shores will be familiar with.
Charles moved to Juventus in 1957 and quickly became a hero to the fans of ‘The Old Lady’ during his time there, winning three Serie A titles in the process.
Keegan moved to German side Hamburg and won the Ballon d’Or two years in a row (1978,1979), as well as a league title in the latter of those two triumphs. He was a European Cup runner-up in 1980, going down to the historic Aston Villa side.
Waddle was also a European Cup loser with Marseille in 1991, but he did taste three straight championship victories in the French league.
Whereas McManaman moved to Real Madrid, won two La Liga titles and two Champions League titles, being named man of the match in the earlier of two, as well becoming the first Englishman to win the trophy with a foreign club.
More well documented cases are that of David Beckham and Michael Owen with varying degrees of success, but both always maintained they did not regret going abroad.
In fact, players like Gary Lineker felt it was an extremely important experience in development as a person and helped to broaden their horizons.
This is the key argument for greater movement abroad from players of the home nations; going and experiencing a different language or culture, as well as a different approach to playing the game, will almost certainly be a positive experience.
In much the same way that any young people travel abroad for periods of their lives, the ability to be able to live life in another country is chance that should not be turned down at some point.
Should Bale decide to move abroad, it will no doubt improve him as a player and so improve his contribution to Wales’ future successes.
When watching the World Cup people marvelled at the footballing skills of Spain and Germany, not to mention the Dutch side before the final, and we all asked ourselves why our national team could not perform to such heights.
To develop our youth systems accordingly takes years to bear fruit and we will likely not see any change for a generation, but playing abroad is something of a solution for the short-term.
We have seen the effect welcoming foreign players to the Premier League can have, as many of the best of them are named in the 20th anniversary award group for the best player.
Foreign coaches such as Arsene Wenger introduced some revolutionary changes to the way footballers as athletes go about their lives, changes that have spread through the league and helped to bring unprecedented success to the competition.
It’s time for some British players to spread their wings, to the benefit of all.
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