Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
In 2007 it was seen as quite a coup when Tottenham beat off interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United to sign the precocious Welsh defender Gareth Bale from Southampton. Just 17, Bale moved to White Hart Lane for an initial £5 million.
Two years later however, Bale's future hung very much in the balance. A run of 24 Premier League matches without a win hung over his head, and Wales' youngest ever international appeared on his way out, and a £3 million move to Birmingham City was mooted in the Daily Mail.
Fast forward to 2013, and Bale is now seen as one of the most devastating and destructive attacking footballers in world football.
A mixture of terrific speed, outstanding physical attributes—"built like a light heavyweight boxer" according to ex-Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, as reported by the Guardian—and a sledgehammer left foot, the past four years have seen Bale transported from a precocious left-back to a swashbuckling left winger, and most latterly into an attacking tour de force who has already twice been named as the PFA Footballer of the Year.
2012-13 was Bale's best in a Tottenham shirt, where he became the undoubted darling of the White Hart Lane faithful. Twenty-six goals in 44 games encompassed some truly fabulous goals and magnificent performances as Bale became the club's greatest attacking weapon, and his talent flourished to its greatest effect (so far) under Andre Villas-Boas.
The summer transfer window ahead of the 2013-14 campaign has seen Bale heavily linked with a world record move to Real Madrid, the Welshman seemingly set to tread the same path as Luka Modric last summer.
Such a deal would see Spurs recoup in the region of 18 to 20 times their initial outlay in 2007. That, combined with his on-field growth and their initial outlay, marks Bale as their greatest transfer signing in the last 10 years.
I'm on the Twitter, so follow me: @AA_Richards