There’s a time and a place for everything. Well, Jonathan Barnett seemingly thought so after his carefully worded provocative statement on Futboleros, the Spanish television show on Wednesday. Barnett, the Jerry Maguire to one of the planet’s most sought after talents in Gareth Bale, effectively invited a bid from Real Madrid for the services of his star client, stating it would be a “great honour” to speak with the Los Blancos president, Florentino Perez.
Admittedly, before Spurs chairman Daniel Levy gave out the agent’s address to the heavies, Barnett did also sensibly point out that Bale still has three years left on his Tottenham Hotspur contract. It is widely acknowledged that the North Londoners’ stance is to keep hold of their prized asset, as head coach Andre Villas-Boas has stipulated his desire to do so more than once. The PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year enjoyed a marvellous season, netting 21 league goals, with more than a handful of his efforts leaving commentators, fans and pundits alike bewitched with his wizardry.
A well-known commodity worldwide, the dreaded cocktail of Bale magic and Spurs’ failure to qualify for the Champions League has resulted in predators circling White Hart Lane. Soon after the final whistle had sounded in Newcastle on the last day of the season, a triumphant Arsenal had sealed Spurs’ Champions League fate and possibly Bale’s for that matter. The tabloids promptly ran with a story that Levy had pieced together a new contract for his talisman. However, Barnett defiantly scorched these rumours during his rendezvous with the Spanish media by announcing “we [Bale and I] haven’t spoken with anyone.”
With Perez on Thursday engulfing the flames stating that “Bale was born to play for Real” and almost distancing himself from Luis Suarez, it is more than probable that Bale is Real’s priority signing this summer.
This leaves Tottenham in a precarious situation. With three years left on his contract, a fee of at least £50m (which Barcelona reportedly agreed to pay Santos for the acquisition of Brazilian Neymar) is realistic. Some quote that anything up to £80m is feasible. Could Spurs really turn down a fee of that magnitude? After all, a recent study (The Numbers Game, 2013) revealed that teams are only as strong as their weakest components. So whilst Spurs have finished in a 4th/5th/4th/5th sequence during the past four league campaigns, the difference between themselves and the likes of both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea is that those respective squads have fewer weaknesses. A Bale sale would enable the club to comprehensively address their weak points such as full backs, playmakers and goal scorers but in doing so they would lose one of the best players in the world and a magnet for additional sublime talent.
Whatever the decision, it’s squeaky bum time for the white and blue half of North London.