Should Tottenham Hotspur sell Gareth Bale? It is a question currently being debated by football fans all over.
If you ask Tottenham fans, their response would be simple. In an ideal world, no.
But with a reported £60million bid being prepared by the Spanish giants Real Madrid for the services of the Welsh winger - it may mean that Tottenham Hotspur fans’ dreams of seeing Gareth Bale become the jewel in their team’s crown may be sacrificed in line with the financial reality of today’s footballing world.
The much-quoted figure of £73million Spurs paid to construct arguably the best Tottenham team of the Premiership era could conceivably be almost doubled should Daniel Levy characteristically play hard-ball upon ever entering into negotiations about a potential transfer to Madrid this summer.
This, amidst continuing speculation that Manchester United have already lodged their official interest in signing the Welsh wizard, while Manchester City could never be ruled out of any big-money move in the off-season.
The reinvestment of a sum anticipated to be between the reported £60milion and as high as £80m back into the squad should result in a considerable reinvigoration of Spurs’ quest to establish themselves as a top four Premiership team.
While top target Joao Moutinho has already signed on with the next batch of Europe’ nouveau-riche based on the French Riviera, there remains a number of high-quality playing options currently available.
Reasons to sell:
1. Buy a striker
Leandro Damiao (Internacional)
A long-term target for Tottenham, the Brazilian number nine has registered 28 goals in 72 appearances for Internacional, and three in 16 for the senior Brazil side.
Not fantastic figures, it’s the player’s youth and talent that sees him highly-rated at White Hart Lane and there is little doubt that the Jardim Alegre-born forward could do the job for Spurs.
Lisandro Lopez (Olympique Lyonnais)
Almost a veteran aged 30, the Argentine forward has a one goal to two games ratio in both Portugal and France, and is reported to be available for as low as £5m as his contract expires next season.
He also seems to have played his last match for Lyon, as his tears betrayed when leaving the pitch after Lyon’s match last week. If not Spurs, then expect Lisandro Lopez to be wearing another team’s colours come August.
David Villa (FC Barcelona)
A 31-year-old with a broken leg he may have recently been, but Villa’s goalscoring antics and all-round link-up play as part of the impressive Barcelona side that swept all before it under Pep Guardiola cannot be denied.
Villa can also operate in the wider positions along the front line, and would be as near a like-for-like replacement for Bale if ever there was one – not least after Hulk moved to Zenit St Petersburg from Porto for £39.5million last summer.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
Benteke was one of the true revelations of the English Premier League last season, scoring 19 goals in all competitions in his first season in England for almost-relegated Aston Villa.
Part of the exciting young Belgian generation, he would fit in alongside Vertonghen and Dembele in a strong, mobile, and technical group of players aiming for the very top domestically and internationally.
Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
Seemingly around forever, Higuain is now apparently considered surplus to Real Madrid’s requirements at the age of only 25. A true goalpoacher, his time in the Spanish capital has seen him clock up 105 goals in only 196 appearances, while his strike rate at full international level for Argentina is an impressive 20 goals from 32 caps.
Should Tottenham listen to offers for Bale from Madrid, expect Higuain to feature in the negotiations as a player going in the opposite direction in part-exchange.
2. Reinforce midfield post-Bale
Christian Eriksen (Ajax Amsterdam)
The foremost player currently plying his trade at the Amsterdam Arena, the 21-year-old Danish international has a big future ahead of him.
Scouted by some of Europe’s top club since he was 18, his attributes include fantastic technique, excellent vision, strong leadership skills, and a decent amount of pace. As a link between midfield and attack, Eriksen may prove to be one of the most astute signing of the summer for any club looking to acquire a true emerging talent.
Younes Belhanda (Montpellier HSC)
The 23-year-old Moroccan international was the key factor in unheralded Montepellier’s ascent to the pinnacle of French football in the 2011/12 season.
A throwback to the creative Number 10 of yesteryear, the street footballing talents of Belhanda extend to the wings where he his natural intelligence for the game allow others to make comparison between him and one-time Arsenal great, Robert Pires. Belhanda has already expressed a desire to move away from Stade de la Mosson in the near-future.
Miriam Pjanic (AS Roma)
Paper talk has it that Spurs have already registered their interest in Pjanic with his club, AS Roma – but that they face stiff competition from Bayern Munich.
The Munich club would have the ascendancy in any negotiations, though, as Pjanic is the type of player that fits into the common understanding of what makes up a Guardiola-type midfielder, in addition to any financial factors.
Supremely skilful and with an eye for goal, the diminutive Bosnian may in fact be better suited to a more continental style of football than the demands of the English game. Then again, they said the same about Luka Modric…
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Stranger things have happened, and after a year of frustration behind him and a summer of uncertainty at the Bernabeu ahead, Modric may well be tempted to return to a Spurs set up flushed with talent and cash – even if it may be without Bale.
Higuain has already been here mentioned as featuring in any potential part-exchange deal, but would it really surprise anyone if Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy also threw in a cheeky bid to bring the Croatian back to White Hart Lane?
The question Tottenham Hotspur must ask themselves now, however, is whether taking Madrid’s money and running is a good gamble?
Reasons to stay:
1. Bale's ability
As impressive a list of potential recruits any of the above may represent to the North London club, none are in the stratum of players Gareth Bale currently resides. Bale’s goals are responsible for securing 24 of Tottenham’s 72 points to finish with their highest ever tally in the Premier League.
In fact, without those goals, Spurs would have finished in ninth position with 48 points – 25 points off Arsenal in fourth. Bringing in even five players to replace the man may not result in covering the deficit caused by a Bale-shaped hole in the current Tottenham team.
2. Bale the brand
Tottenham Hotspur are a team on the up, and their attractive brand of football over the past few years has seen them gain considerable support and sympathy from footballing fans the world over. In particular, Spurs are looking to the large and rich North American market in which to carve out a strong niche, aided and abetted by US kit manufacturers Under Armour.
It is perceived that an Anglo-Celtic named superstar, alongside a high-profile Latino talent, is a key part of a marketing strategy considered crucial to Spurs’ financial growth in the region over the coming years. The sale of Bale would only serve to ultimately compromise that strategy.
3. Bale the players' player
Spurs’ growth, of course, is driven by what takes place on the pitch, and the only way to guarantee improved team performance is to improve the quality of the team’s playing staff. Bale again plays a key role here in being able to attract high-quality and/or high-potential players to Tottenham.
As one of the three most exciting attacking talents on the planet, make no mistake that a good reason for players to sign on with Spurs would be the opportunity to be part of a team that has Bale in it.
4. UCL to expand?
Trading your best player for cash and players just so in order to finish with a mere handful few more points in the league next season may not even be a gamble worth considering, especially if this latest scheme by UEFA is introduced in time for the 2015/16 European season.
Under such a system, the UEFA Champions League alone would remain as the only European club competition open to domestic leagues. While admittedly unlikely, the continuing Europa Cup victories by teams dumped out of the Champions League earlier in the season, and the always-present threat of the best and richest clubs in Europe seceding to form their own elite competition, has seen UEFA amend and adapt its European competition structures for over 20 years now.
In the end, even finishing fifth in the league would be enough to rub shoulders with the likes of AC Milan, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – so why sell one of the world’s best players to one of your rivals?
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