Gareth Bale is an immensely talented player who would have no shortage of potential suitors should he decide it's time to move on from Tottenham. He must make a decision about his future shortly after the season ends to help Spurs set their summer plans.
Right now, Bale and his Tottenham teammates are focused on the final match of the campaign. They are locked in a tight Champions League race with Arsenal, which could play a key role in his decision-making process.
Spurs currently hold a two-point edge, but the Gunners control their own destiny thanks to a match in hand. By the time both clubs take to the pitch on Sunday, they will know exactly what needs to happen to lock up a spot in the top four.
Paul Carr of ESPN provided updated odds:
After Tottenham's win, Arsenal remains a small favorite in the Champions League race: twitter.com/PCarrESPN/stat…— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 12, 2013
Once the dust settles over the weekend, Bale must quickly start thinking about whether or not staying at Tottenham for another season is the right move.
His latest comments about the situation, passed along by Goal.com, don't give a definitive statement either way. He confirms he would like to play abroad, but also says he's not thinking about it much right now.
"I have said in the past I would love to experience playing abroad. You can never tell what the future holds, but at the moment I am concentrating on what I am doing here.
"It gets asked a lot at the moment, but it is something I am not thinking too much about at the moment. My mind is not wandering anywhere."
In many respects, indecision is the worst possible stance for Tottenham. While the club would obviously love for their most valuable asset to stay, it needs to know as soon as possible if he does want to leave to give them an entire transfer window to work things out.
Where will Bale start next season?
Not only would Spurs have to stage what they would hope becomes a massive bidding war for Bale, but also have to start targeting players to replace him. That doesn't even take into account the other voids they are hoping to fill before next season.
In other words, the sooner Bale makes a final choice about his future, at least in the short term, the better off Tottenham will be heading into the summer.
It's understandable that he might want to wait until the Champions League situation plays itself out before deciding. After that, he needs to let the club know his stance right away.
The 23-year-old winger has enjoyed another tremendous season at White Hart Lane. He's accounted for 20 goals (which ranks third) and eight assists in Premier League play. He was recently honored by the Professional Footballers' Association as both the Player and Young Player of the Year.
He's always possessed the skill set necessary to become one of the league's top players. He finally put it all together this season and lived up to that high billing, even while shifting around to various roles.
Real Madrid are among the interested sides and have been linked to a potential high-priced move for Bale. According to Lee Bryan of the Daily Mail, the club's supporters even voted that they would rather see him join the squad than Neymar, another big name heading into the summer.
If Bale made it clear he wanted to play elsewhere, Real would likely be far from alone in the sweepstakes to land him. He's a rising star with virtually limitless potential.
That's also why he must make Tottenham aware of his decision as quickly as possible. Spurs can't afford a summer-long saga that forces them to make a late deal without being able to find a suitable replacement. The club needs a chance to wheel and deal.
The only way that's possible is if Bale gives them a heads up in the near future. If he wants to stay, Tottenham will be ecstatic. If not, at least the club would have plenty of time to work the market.