Real Madrid have reportedly made a sensational £85m world record bid for Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, and Spurs are understandably reluctant to let go of their prize asset, but should the North Londoners choose to sell, manager Andre Villas-Boas would be left with a healthy transfer budget that would boost their Champions League bid considerably.
Chairman Daniel Levy has reiterated that the Welsh winger is not for sale, and there will be many who believe Bale is irreplaceable. After signing from Southampton as an 18-year-old, Bale has risen to worldwide stardom with his goals propelling Spurs to fifth place last season.
However, representing Wales at international level means the Champions League may be his only taste of life at football’s top table. Whilst Bale helped Spurs to the quarter finals of Europe's premier club competition in 2010, his side have failed to break into the top four since then.
If Spurs were to accept the offer, it begs the question of what they would do with £85m. The deal is not said to involve any Madrid players, as was originally thought. That being the case, the Lilywhites are in urgent need of a striker, particularly if they lose Bale.
There have been talks to sign Valencia’s Roberto Soldado, although the Spanish outfit are nailing Spurs to the wall over his transfer fee. Meanwhile QPR’s Loic Remy is also an option, though the Frenchman appears more likely to opt for Newcastle. Christian Benitez may have been the preferred option at the start of the summer, but a deal for the striker was left dead in the water when the Aston Villa youngster signed a new deal earlier this month.
Elsewhere, AVB is reportedly undecided on Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s role in the team, and Zenit St Petersburg’s Domenico Criscito would prove an experienced replacement. Also in defence, Tottenham require solidarity at centre-back and cover for Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen would be welcome, particularly as the Belgian is set to miss the start of the season through injury. In addition, William Gallas was released at the end of last season, whilst one-club man Ledley King was forced to retire after his continuing knee problems.
The signings of Paulinho and Nacer Chadli will add a more creative element to the squad, but fans will fear that Spurs’ transfer policy is already set on replacing their Welsh star. The White Hart Lane faithful are used to seeing the heart ripped out of their team: Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric have all waved goodbye to North London in the last decade, but the club has done remarkably well to recover.
The last month of the transfer window is fast approaching, meaning if Bale were to go, Tottenham must be ready to spend – and spend quickly. Otherwise, the very real prospect will dawn on them that there will be no time to replace him, and hopes of Champions League qualification could be all but dashed.
New technical director Franco Baldini has been travelling the continent in the hunt for new signings, and chairman Levy is notorious for playing hardball in the transfer market. Either way, he faces sleepless nights over the ongoing saga as Spurs must decide whether to shut the doors, or finally cash in.
Bale’s ‘not for sale’ sign becomes increasingly hard to believe looking at Spurs’ history over the last few years, and if they are to really break the top four consistently they will have to finally dispense with the tag that they may be a selling club.
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