Bale hunters set their sights

There was something poignant about watching Gareth Bale seal another win for Tottenham with another fabulous strike, only to discover that Arsenal’s win at Newcastle had pipped Spurs to the Champions League fourth place, thus denying this exceptional young player the opportunity to play on the biggest stage in club football. But you can bet that there are several clubs itching to offer him that very thing. As I’ve said already in these notes, Bale is THE player in the Premier League who will be the most sought after this summer. The best teams in England, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, would all be improved with Bale in their line-up.That means Tottenham have a big decision to make if they are to keep the man around whom the team revolves. In an era of outstanding athletes on the soccer pitches of the world, Bale has emerged as an elite performer, a player who combines impressive physique with power, pace and control and a gift for scoring goals from all areas.

Players of his quality understandably expect to perform at the highest level in Europe and that means the Champions League. I mean no disrespect to Wales, the country of Bale’s birth, but he is extremely unlikely to savour the ultimate thrill of international football, competing at World Cup finals, let alone European finals, proud though I am sure he is to wear the red shirt. There have been some world-class Welsh players in the past 20 years, like goalkeeper Neville Southall, midfielders Gary Speed and Ryan Giggs and striker Mark Hughes, all of whom never savoured the big international stage. Hughes and Giggs, of course, had the consolation of many European club campaigns with Manchester United. And that is what Bale will aspire to.

So, the challenge for Tottenham supremo Daniel Levy is to keep the predators who can offer Bale the glamour of the Champions League at bay. There has been talk of a huge pay rise offer, in the region of £170,000 a week, for Bale and Spurs fans can only hope he is willing to accept and continue to be their driving force next season. If not, you can be sure Levy will demand the highest price for one of the most coveted players in the world. For example, if Cristiano Ronaldo were to leave Real Madrid, the Spaniards would almost certainly try for Bale and Levy would insist upon a fee in the region of the £80million Real paid Manchester United for Ronaldo three years ago.