Why Gareth Bale's Future at Tottenham Could Be Decided This Weekend
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This has been the greatest season of Gareth Bale’s career so far.
He has proved himself as one of the world’s most exciting talents, worthy of being mentioned alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has scored 25 goals, and most of them have been things of beauty and a reminder of why we all love football.
He has been voted the PFA’s Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year, and the FWA's Footballer of the Year.
Yet, this weekend his season could end in failure with him being denied the one thing he craves above all else: Champions League football.
If Tottenham fail to beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane Sunday, they will finish outside the promised land of the top four in the Premier League.
Even if they win, if Arsenal also win at Newcastle, Tottenham will go into the Europa League rather than the Champions League.
A lot is resting on this weekend's games and whether Tottenham’s entire season will be judged a success or a failure.
Just as crucially, it could determine the immediate future of Bale.
Bale is not agitating for a move, he loves playing for Tottenham and has acknowledged how Andre Villas-Boas has helped to bring the best out of him this season.
However, let’s be honest, he is not going to be content to slum it in the Europa League for another season.
He knows his talent deserves to be showcased in the Champions League, and if Tottenham cannot provide that, he might have to find another team who can.
Bale has played just one season in the Champions League in 2010-11, and he was a star, famously tearing the defence of the reigning champions Inter Milan to pieces over the course of two games.
He has had to watch other less talented players have their fun in the competition over the last two seasons.
Will he stand for missing out for a third consecutive season?
The frustration for Tottenham is their destiny, and possibly Bale’s future, is not in their control this weekend.
After a typical Tottenham dip in form, they are actually finishing the season strongly and are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games.
On Sunday, they should have enough to get past Sunderland, who have flirted with relegation but now have nothing to play for.
But should Tottenham take the lead, radios and phones will be regularly checked for the score of Arsenal’s trip to Newcastle.
Newcastle, too, have nothing to play for against Arsenal, having secured their Premier League status last weekend.
Tottenham won’t have been heartened to hear the Newcastle manager Alan Pardew quoted in Metro, saying “I don’t really care if Arsenal win 4-0 if I’m honest. I’m sure Spurs will, but I only care that our fans enjoy themselves.”
The results of these two games this weekend could reverberate throughout the summer, and depending on what happens, we may look back at Tottenham’s game against Sunderland as Bale’s last for the club.
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