With transfer rumours at an all-time high as we get ready for the start of the new season, there have been a few names that we’re all sick to the back teeth of hearing; players who have cropped up in newspapers and on websites every single day; players who are supposedly going to move for silly amounts of money. One such player is Gareth Bale, and in light of the most recent bid (unconfirmed as we go to print) of £81m for the player, I thought it was certainly worth spending a little bit of time considering the Bale deal. The club thought to be bidding for the Welshman is of course none other than Real Madrid, and although the ‘Bale to Real’ speculation has been rife this summer, not many have stopped and considered the potential pros and cons of such a move. Let’s look at this from the various different perspectives:
The reports this week are that Spurs rejected a whopping £81m bid for their star player, and given that no player has ever had that amount of money spent on them; if that bid did indeed take place then no doubt it was a pretty tempting offer for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. From a business perspective you can see why Levy might be tempted to sell; £81m is a lot of money, and the chances are that even if Tottenham used a proportion of that money to reinforce their squad, they’d still be making a very healthy profit.
However, it’s not just the one-off income that needs to be considered here. For a few seasons now, Tottenham have been knocking on the door of the Champions League, and in fact Harry Rednapp guided them into the elite European competition only three years ago. In football terms, the Champions League is where the big bucks are, and in order to get into the Champions League, you need the best players. Selling Bale may increase Tottenham’s profits for one season, but would it have a detrimental effect on their ability to qualify for Europe’s premier competition, and thus decrease their ability to make money? Champions League participation adds around £25-30m to a club’s coffers, so it’s not money to be sniffed at.
You may have noticed that in this section we’ve focused mainly on the business side of things, and that’s primarily because as far as the footballing side is concerned; there’s nothing to discuss. Selling Bale would weaken Tottenham, and significantly, so unless their hand is forced, they’d be wise to keep hold of their Welsh wizard for as long as possible.
Madrid are thought to be one of two clubs seriously interested in the Spurs player, with Man Utd being the other party. Although the United board appear to be keen for Moyes to flex their financial muscle; when figures of £80m+ are being talked about, it’s fair to assume that United have been priced out of the market. Their record signing remains Dimitar Berbatov at just over £30m, and although they are bidding close to £40m for Cesc Fabregas, the idea of the Red Devils spending much more than that is quite frankly ridiculous.
So to Madrid then. Why do they want Bale? Madrid have a habit of spending obscene amounts of money on very high profile players, and therefore the simple answer is that Madrid want to show Europe who’s boss by investing heavily in arguably one of the most famous footballers in the world at this current time. Bale’s ability on the pitch is undeniable, and therefore you can understand why Madrid would want another player of his quality. However, is he worth it to Madrid at that price?
Although the so-called Galacticos era is over, there’s no doubt that Madrid have always had a vested interest in having the world’s most illustrious stars plying their trade at the Bernabeu. This is certainly the case at the moment, with Kaka, Ronaldo, Ozil, Alonso, Pepe, di Maria and Benzema all donning the white of Real. If their move for Bale was to prove successful, Bale would be joining lots of players who are on the same sort of level as him, and the question is: would that suit Bale?
Bale is the main man at Tottenham, and all too frequently last season he was the man to dig them out of holes and rescue them when all seemed lost. He contributed a vast proportion of the goals at White Hart Lane, and consequently was responsible for many of the points they earned throughout the course of the season. But would Bale have the same impact at Madrid? He would no longer be the main man – that title undoubtedly owned by Ronaldo – and his impact could well be overshadowed by the considerable ability of his fellow teammates. I guess what it comes down to is that Bale is unlikely to make Madrid that much better. Certainly not that much better that it would be worth breaking the world transfer record for him. To me, this potential move of Madrid’s is designed to showcase that they mean business and have the money and resources to get anyone they want; as opposed to it being a sensible and shrewd footballing move.
And so to the man himself. Bale has remained pretty quiet throughout this whole saga, and it is thought that the Welshman – while flattered and perhaps interested – is not keen to engineer a move away from White Hart Lane; at least not this summer anyway. The Welshman is believed to have a great working relationship with Tottenham manager Andre-Villas Boas, and given that Bale is only 24, he may see another season working under the tutelage of the Portugese as a worthwhile use of time, as opposed to a waste.
Bale’s agent is the only one from the Bale camp who has had anything to say on the subject, earlier this summer admitting that Bale would listen to an offer from Real Madrid if it were to come in. Let’s face it though: who wouldn’t? Real are in football folklore, and most footballers at some time or another have probably fantasised about playing for the great Spanish team. Nevertheless, Bale must still ask himself the question: “would it be a good move for me?”. The point made in the previous section is also very much applicable to Bale: the chances are, he wouldn’t make Madrid that much better. Currently, Bale is a big fish in a pond that is arguably increasing in size; at Madrid, he’d been an average sized fish in an ocean of talent, and the question for Bale to answer is whether or not he wants that or not.
The difficulty with all of this Bale business is that there has been no clear indication regarding how Bale feels about all of this. Without that clarification it’s very difficult to evaluate the likelihood of a move. My gut instinct would be that having had his fingers burnt with transfers late in the window before, Daniel Levy will be very keen to avoid a repeat, and consequently is unlikely to permit a transfer with only one month to spend the profits. If Bale is keen on a move, there’s a good chance that Levy may agree to sanction one next summer – as he did with Luka Modric – giving Tottenham one more chance to crack the Champions League nut. If they do so, they may find that Bale might be keen to stay after all.