Tottenham: What Spurs Need to Do Next Season to Keep Gareth Bale Longer
Heading into what promises to be an extremely busy summer transfer window across Europe, Gareth Bale's status at Tottenham stands apart as the most intriguing and glamorous saga out there.
At 23 years old, Bale came of age this past season, scoring beautiful goal after beautiful goal and carrying Spurs to a record points tally.
The Welshman's stunning play caught the attention of many of Europe's top clubs, chief amongst them Spanish giants Real Madrid.
While Tottenham has continually suggested that their most prized asset is not for sale, some are still skeptical of the club's ability to turn down such a deal.
After all, with no Champions League football to offer Bale, it makes some sense for the winger to wonder what the grass is like on the other side.
However, even if one were to take Spurs at their word and believe that Gareth Bale is to stay at White Hart Lane through this summer, the situation gets a bit murkier next year.
Bale will be 24 going on 25 next summer, a key point in a player's career as they are just reaching their prime.
If the club were to be in the same position next year as they are this year, it's hard to envision Bale's desire to be anything other than an exit.
So what must Tottenham do this season in order to satisfy their superstar and persuade him to stay for longer?
For one thing, the club must build a formidable striking force.
This past season, Spurs struggled mightily at the front of their attack.
With just two experienced strikers in their ranks—Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor—the side's depth was virtually non-existent.
This fact was made abundantly clear through the two strikers' injuries and loss of form through the middle of the year.
Thus, Bale was forced to pick up the slack and carry the bulk of Tottenham's goal-scoring output.
There is no doubt that Bale is happy to get his goals, but he would surely prefer to have a striker ahead of him to threaten the opposition, relieve some of the pressure on Bale and open space for the Welshman.
Spurs cannot afford to go through the same issues they went through this past January, where they were unable to sign a striker before the window closed.
Picking the correct striker and signing them for the long-term should be priority number one for Spurs this summer.
Another thing that Tottenham will need to do this upcoming season is to qualify for the Champions League.
This one almost goes without saying, as the club will need to offer the highest level of competition to justify keeping someone as talented as Gareth Bale around.
Should Spurs miss out on Europe's top competition for another season—even as narrowly as they did this past season—it would be hard to begrudge Bale the opportunity to pursue glory elsewhere.
There's no doubt that it would be a bitter pill to swallow for all supporters of the London club, but the Welshman would have to move on at that point.
Therefore, a top-four finish is absolutely vital for this season.
The final thing that Tottenham will have to do is to develop their youth.
At the moment, Spurs are filled with potential at almost every position.
Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson are sure to be fine players in the midfield in the near future. Steven Caulker is the future of the central defense. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have a chance to become one of the best fullback tandems in the Premier League. The reserve side is overflowing with talent.
While this certainly sets up well for the future of the club, some of this potential must be realized over the next season to keep Gareth Bale.
The Welshman can't wait around his whole career to see Spurs grow; he must see some of this promise start to turn into results sooner rather than later.
Do you think Tottenham can keep Bale for the long haul?
With manager Andre Villas-Boas nurturing them well, though, there's a good chance that these young talents will do what's needed of them.
If these three things can all happen over the next 12 months, there is no reason to think that Tottenham will have to sell Gareth Bale next summer.
Should one or more of them go wrong, though, it may spell the end of Bale's career at White Hart Lane.
Hence, even if Spurs find a way to keep their Welsh wizard through the summer, the club faces a crucial 12 months.
Sorry, Tottenham fans: This saga isn't ending anytime soon.
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