After seeing his star-player achieve the individual clean sweep by picking up the PFA Player of the Year, Young Player of the year and the FWA Player of the Year, Andre-Villas Boas remained predictably calm and assured when it came to the inevitable question of Gareth Bale’s future. “I’d be extremely surprised if Bale left, because this is the assurance I have” said the Portuguese coach, “the information I have from the club is he is here to remain”.
It was an answer typical of the manager whose dealings with the media usually verge on the languid and serene. Keen not to transfer attention from the conclusion to Spurs’ season which remains immersed in the battle for Champions League qualification, Villas-Boas carefully trod around the subject, giving the most diplomatic of answers. The chairman has sorted it. Bale will remain at Spurs. There is nothing to see here apart from Bale accepting his award.
It was curious enough however to hear Villas-Boas apply the responsibility for keeping Bale to Daniel Levy, suggesting that he is under no illusion that if the club received a mammoth financial offer for the winger in the summer, the decision-making will be down to those in charge of the accounts, not the team. “It’s not up to me to judge the finances of the club- I’m the head coach, it’s the chairman’s decision.”
Such recognition and acclaim in the form of Bale’s individual awards this week will only intensify the anticipation that a sizeable bid for the winger will arrive in the summer. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have been repeatedly linked with the 23 year old and in the week where both club’s need for squad renovation was made so glaringly obvious in the Champions League, Bale is likely to have become a genuine target.
There could be no argument as to the validity of Bale’s awards given he has contributed 24 goals to Tottenham’s overall season and provided another 8. In the Premier League, he has been the driving force behind the club’s quest for Champions League football, his 19 strikes directly contributing to 24 of Spurs’ 62 point tally.
His versatility has been seamless, performing the attacking midfield role as well as that of a central-striker with the same unrelenting power and athleticism that has seen many full-backs dismissed from his usual left-wing home. He has burst past defenders with skill and dynamism, applying a devastating finish to his near-imperious armoury.
He can be the one man wave of momentum that tore through Aston Villa, Norwich and Newcastle, the precision passer that turned the game with Manchester City, or the thunderous goalscorer of unerring accuracy and power that did for West Ham and Swansea. It is the wide range of attributes that drew comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo during his February form.
Perhaps it was obscene and sensationalist to elevate Bale to the esteemed company of the unstoppable Madrid winger, but there is nothing strange about suggesting Bale hints at the same muscular physique and majestic ability as the Portuguese four years his senior.
There is no doubting he has entered into the same mould of player who possesses wonderful physical vigour to compliment the dexterity of his feet. “World Class” can be an over-used adjective in the modern game but it is hard to argue with the perception that Bale has the potential to join that bracket.
It is the immediate future that will go some way to dictating how far that potential will take Bale, with the prospect of again having to miss out on participation in Europe’s premier competition becoming increasingly possible as Spurs cling on to fourth spot.
Villas-Boas was unequivocal when it came to “the player remaining independent of the objective of achieving Champions League qualification or not”, but there has to be a suspicion that missing out once again on a place with Europe’s elite would weaken the bargaining power of Levy and co.
It was Zinedine Zidane who recently vocalised his opinion that Bale is the best player in the world and predicted that many top level clubs would be waiting patiently with astronomical bids designed to lure Bale away from his north London home. As the individual awards gleamed, it was a certification that Bale’s has been a campaign of the very highest standard, 53% of the Football Writer’s vote being a ringing endorsement of such notion.
Expect Spurs’ resolve to be under the toughest examination in the summer, but expect the final decision to be made in the board-room.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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