Tottenham Hotspur: Gareth Bale Faces Contract Dilemma as Real Madrid Lurk
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Gareth Bale is facing a footballer's dilemma.
Most normal folks will not sympathize with him having to choose between multi-million pound contracts in his dream job. But in the ramifications his decision will mean for others, it certainly has the high stakes of a dilemma.
Tottenham Hotspur understandably want to keep their star player. According to John Cross' article in The Mirror earlier this week, up to five clubs could be preparing bids of around £80 million for the Welshman.
Real would offer immediate Champions League football, as well as the higher wages and greater prestige that comes with playing for a club of their size and tradition.
Yet the volatile nature of the Spanish giants (who are currently searching for a new manager) might not necessarily be conducive to Bale settling in. Given the enormous price tag that would likely accompany any transfer, the pressure for him to succeed would be similarly big.
Food for thought at least, if not ultimately a dissuading factor.
In comparison, Spurs do not just offer a comforting familiarity as the 23-year-old continues his development. There is also an exciting project under way in North London.
Andre Villas-Boas' burgeoning team is progressing nicely under his management. Bale might yet want to stick around and see if this is going to turn into the real deal.
It is here where the multifaceted nature of Bale's "dilemma" becomes apparent.
Going by Jason Burt's report in the Sunday Telegraph, Spurs "will tell Gareth Bale that he is not for sale at any price." Should this prove accurate, the situation surrounding the player's contract status comes to the fore.
Hardly anyone is expecting Bale to extend his deal beyond 2016 (which it runs to in its current form) this summer. Just after the season's conclusion, reports in The Guardian and London Evening Standard suggested revised terms were to be agreed imminently.
These included improved wages and a £50 million transfer release clause which could only be activated from summer 2014. Evidently, nothing along these lines has yet been formally agreed between Bale and Spurs.
It is a difficult balancing act for the multi-award winning player. Improving his contract terms would be tempting. But in terms of his own future, he is already in an ideal situation.
If he is fine with staying at least one more season, Bale already has wiggle room to make a decision following 2013-14. Should circumstances have swayed him into staying longer at Spurs, a new contract can easily be negotiated.
Deciding to move on will be made simpler for a couple of reasons. Spurs will still (likely) not contemplate any offers from rival English clubs, but a bid from abroad would be more tolerable in the knowledge it will be their last chance to make big money for Bale.
As an example of this, Manchester United paid £24 million for Robin van Persie in 2012. The Dutchman had one year left on his contract at Arsenal at that stage. Had he gone a year earlier, the Gunners could easily have demanded even more for their best player.
By showing loyalty to Spurs a year earlier (i.e. right now, this summer), Bale will have bought some understanding about wanting to leave. Especially if on-pitch developments this season do not match his ambition.
Conjecture though this all may be, it says a lot about the stature of Bale right now in European football.
Really, Tottenham only need him to confirm to them, and publicly, he wants to stay. However, the realities of the sport are that the club would feel a lot better if they got this in writing.
Until something is confirmed either way, be prepared for plenty more speculation.
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