Football

Should I stay or should I go? Gareth Bale’s Tottenham Hotspur conundrum

After yesterday’s win at St James’ Park, Arsenal booked their annual spot amongst Europe’s elite by securing their sixteenth consecutive season in the Champions League. By contrast, down in London, although the recently honoured PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year added another wonder strike to his incredible repertoire, the Gunners’ 1-0 win meant Spurs came up short once again. Last season Spurs also suffered, yet again finishing one point behind Arsenal, albeit in fourth position but Chelsea’s success in Munich meant the Blues were allocated England’s final Champions League slot.

Gareth Bale strikes

Although Spurs amassed a record Premier League points haul this campaign, the focal topic in the white and blue half of North London is, will Gareth Bale remain at White Hart Lane?

Reasons to stay

  • Last summer’s loss in the quality of Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart was significant but Spurs bought extremely well, particularly in signing Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele. Although they have missed out on the Champions League, Spurs have steadily improved during the last few years – 72 points this season, including wins over champions Manchester United, Manchester City and bitter rivals Arsenal, is a testament to that. Should Spurs replicate the quality of last summer’s signings, the squad would strengthen considerably.
  • Despite his superb performances, at 23, Bale remains a relative youngster and can improve. The Welshman has flourished under the guidance of Andre Villas-Boas. By being employed in a free-roaming position, Spurs’ talisman has frequently terrorised defences all over the country, becoming the highest scorer outside the penalty area in Europe this season. Furthermore, AVB has vindicated Daniel Levy’s (Tottenham Hotspur chairman) calculated risk by replacing Spurs legend Harry Redknapp with the young Portuguese. Following a successful first season, the Lillywhites hold an advantage of being only one of two clubs in the top five to have managerial continuity going into next term.

Reasons to leave

  • Next season will be the third consecutive season where the thrilling Champions League anthem will be absent at White Hart Lane. Competing in Europe’s premier club competition has arguably more weighting than winning domestic cup competitions and even winning the Europa League.
  • Although the Europa League campaign witnessed entertaining nights where Spurs faced the likes of Lazio, Lyon and Internazionale, it is a second-rate competition. Chelsea’s triumph, a by-product of UEFA essentially rewarding clubs for Champions League failure, only justifies that notion.
  • With Arsenal’s huge cash resources at hand, they are likely to improve next season and therefore the notorious North London gap will only increase unless Spurs invest significantly during the summer. Having missed out on a proven goal scorer during the last two transfer windows, it is not unfeasible that the new Tottenham stadium project is draining player recruitment funds.
  • Finally, when one of the best players ever to grace a football pitch, Zinedine Zidane, compliments a current player, stating he’s been the player to watch in Europe, it is a tad on the flattering side. The result of Bale’s virtuoso displays this season means that every major club with financial clout will be on the radar. Viable destinations include Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Regardless of the bumper new contract Spurs can place in front of the Welshman, they will struggle to match his lofty ambitions.

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