Following the continued speculation linking Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale with a mega-money move to Real Madrid this summer, Daryl Hardy takes a look at how the north London club could look to replace the Welshman if he is to depart this year.
Despite Spurs boss Andre villas-Boas' confidence in hanging on to the player for at least another season, it is looking increasingly likely that the 24-year-old is set on a move away sooner rather than later.
Having enjoyed the best campaign of his career to date in 2012/13 - in which he scored 21 goals in 33 Premier League matches - Bale is now touted as one of Europe's hottest properties.
Manchester United are the latest to be reportedly interested in acquiring the player, and Antonio Valencia's retirement of the coveted no.7 shirt has fired up more speculation that they could be lining up a bid.
Tottenham fans obviously would rather they didn't sell their best player. However, if Real Madrid or Manchester United are willing to stump up the millions of pounds chairman Daniel Levy want for Bale, then they could find themselves better off selling – providing they re-invest the money wisely.
Here are three of the best Gareth Bale replacement targets…
The Ajax playmaker is a great talent and has demonstrated his potential over the past two seasons for the Dutch champions. The 21-year-old Denmark international scored 10 goals in 33 league appearances during the last campaign.
He is a skilful, intelligent attacking player that could prove to be a big hit at White Hart Lane. Don't get me wrong, he can't replace the void Bale would leave, but he would go some way in making Tottenham a stronger side.
The Borussia Dortmund winger was one of the stand-out performers for the club last season as they reached the Champions League final and finished runners-up in the Bundesliga, being bettered only by rivals Bayern Munich.
Reus managed to score 19 goals in 47 appearances in his maiden season and proved to be a great attacking threat from wide areas and through the middle. The 24-year-old possesses great pace and trickery and would certainly be a great addition to the Spurs attack.
The striker could potentially be involved in a deal that would see Bale go to Madrid, and him arriving at Tottenham in a player plus cash agreement. At 25-years-of-age, Benzema is in the peak of his career and enjoyed a great 2012/13 campaign.
The Frenchman scored 20 goals and made an impressive 19 assists in his 50 appearances in all competitions. Also, with the arrival of Roberto Soldado, Benzema would add further attacking threat and between them you would expect them to be able to replace Bale's goals and more.
Tottenham might fail to attract players of this quality, though, as they lack the lure of Champions League football. So, perhaps it is in their best interests to hold on to Bale for another year, in the hope that they can finish in the Champions League places before they decide to cash-in on the player.
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