Following the second senior hat-trick, Gareth Bale’s career graph continues its ascent.
Club chairman Daniel Levy said recently he’s worth £60million and, although Spurs fans won’t like to hear it, it’s a figure a club such as Real Madrid would not hesitate to splurge on the brilliant attacker.
There are, however, plenty of reasons why Bale should stay where he is and we look at some of them here.
We’re not saying that Bale doesn’t have the mentality to succeed at one of Europe’s top clubs but as far as players leaving Spurs is concerned, there is a precedent.
When Dimitar Berbatov left the club in 2008, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy intimated that the Bulgarian did not have the mentality that would allow him to blossom at Manchester United. It’s the ‘Big fish in a small pond” syndrome.
There are, of course, different ways to measure a player’s success at a club—and trophies is certainly one of them—but, despite winning two Premier League titles and a League Cup, his influence waned when he should have been at his peak.
And when it came to arguably United’s two most important games in Berbatov's time at the club, Alex Ferguson dropped him for both the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.
More recently, Luka Modric has struggled in Spain. The Croatian midfielder was indispensable at Spurs and was a—if not the—key component of the team that qualified for the Champions League in 2010.
He started off well at the Bernabéu but has since fallen out of favor to the extent that his total minutes played this season amounts to just eight games. Worse yet, he was recently named worst signing of the season by readers of Spanish newspaper Marca.
With Spurs currently on their best league run of the season—seven wins in the last nine games—it is easier now to suggest that the club is on the up than it was when West Brom, Norwich City and Wigan Athletic nicked points at White Hart Lane.
And it’s not just the victories—it’s the manner in which they’ve been achieved.
Against Swansea in December, Spurs made more interceptions in a single game than any other Premier League team since the 2009/2010 season.
André Villas-Boas’s tactics earlier in the season were called into question but, over the course of the last four matches in particular, the pressing game has been a resounding success.
Consider also these statistics in that time: 104 shots at goal; 64 on target; 47 corners. The players have bought into the manager’s methods.
It’s foolish to make predictions but, on current form, Spurs are favorites to secure at least a place in the top four at the end of the season. And that surely is the minimum requirement if Bale is not to follow Modric out of the club in pursuit of European football.
Harry Redknapp used to talk up Spurs’ title hopes during his time at the club but it was never quite justified. Now, with a hugely ambitious young manager, a tilt at the title might not be that far away.
It’s easy to forget that Bale had an inauspicious start to his Spurs career, failing to feature on a winning side in any of his first 24 league games.
He also repeatedly annoyed Redknapp who reputedly told him to cut his hair because he was messing with it too much in training.
In fact, it wasn’t until early 2010—almost three years after he signed for the club—that Bale became a first-team regular. Since then though, his value has risen astronomically and continues to soar.
Even if he only announced himself on the world stage with that hat-trick at the San Siro, he had already endeared himself to Spurs fans with crucial goals against bitter rivals Arsenal and Chelsea towards the end of the seismic 2009/2010 season.
He is undoubtedly the hero at White Hart Lane and the most coveted player in the league.
In Spain, which would be his likely destination, he would have to prove himself all over again in a league that already has its ultimate star.
Still only 23 years old, Bale is entering another critical stage of his career.
It wasn’t so long ago that Redknapp said he still saw the Welshman’s long-term future at left-back. Now, though, Bale is firmly established as a potent attacking weapon.
When Spurs signed Bale, then manager Martin Jol surprised many when he said he might play the former Southampton man as a forward. It was only in the latter stages of that 2009/2010 season that Bale began to earn a reputation as a winger of some renown.
This term, he has also improved his scoring touch and has already matched last season’s total of nine league goals.
In Villas-Boas, he has a manager who can potentially get the best out of him. The Portuguese coach played a key role in the nurturing of a number of talents at Porto, most spectacularly in the case of Radamel Falcao.
Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe are also enjoying hugely productive seasons under the direction of their young boss and the latter, in particular, has been full of praise for Villas-Boas.
Bale’s development couldn’t have gone better than it has so far at Spurs. Now he has a manager who can take him to the next level.
Okay, so London is not technically home, but it’s closer to Wales than Madrid is.
Bale has recently celebrated a new arrival following the birth of his daughter so now might not be the best time to uproot a young family.
He’s also a homebird. A couple of years ago, amid the media storm following his astonishing performances against Inter Milan, Redknapp suggested he should take a break and go abroad for a few days.
“And he did,” Redknapp said. “He went to Cardiff to his mum’s.”