André Villas-Boas says he has been promised that Gareth Bale will be at Tottenham Hotspur next season even if they do not reach the Champions League – but the manager admits that he would have no influence over the club's reaction to any bid.
Bale's stock continues to rise as he was named the Football Writers' Association's player of the year a few days after collecting the player of the year and young player of the year awards from the Professional Footballers' Association, and Villas-Boas knows that, more significantly, all of Europe's top clubs admire the Welshman.
Deep-pocketed suitors no doubt want Spurs to fail to finish in the top four in the hope that the financial blow will soften Tottenham's stance on a transfer and also convince Bale to seek a move in order to feature in the Champions League. However, Villas-Boas said he has been given guarantees that Spurs will stand firm and retain Bale no matter what.
"I would be extremely surprised [if Bale left] because this is the assurance I have," the manager said. "In football anything can happen, it's impossible to predict, but this is the assurance I have had from the club. The information that I have from the club is that the player is here to remain independent of the objectives of Champions League qualification being achieved or not.
"We understand that the more awards [Bale wins] the more recognition the player will have, the more media attention, but the club has to move forward by holding on to its best players. With the recognition and the further experience that he has had from this year, next year for Tottenham he will be even more assertive."
Zinedine Zidane, the former France international who is the director of football at Real Madrid, said this week that he considered Bale the best player in the world and suggested there are several clubs in Europe ready to make transfer offers so astronomical that Tottenham could not refuse. Asked about this prospect, Villas-Boas said such decisions were not up to him. "It's not up to me to judge the finances of the club – I am the head coach," he said. "It's the chairman's decision."
Villas-Boas is sufficiently aware of Tottenham's financial situation, though, to know that he is unlikely to be able to renew his working relationship with the Brazilian forward Hulk, who excelled for Villas-Boas at Porto and has declared his desire to leave Zenit St Petersburg for the Premier League.
"He was my player and scored 36 goals in one season but it's impossible he will make a move here because of the wages that he earns; they break our balance," said Villas-Boas of the player who joined Zenit for around £40m last summer and is a reported target for Chelsea. "He may have options in the summer but to a club like Tottenham his transfer fee is also impossible."
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image: © Matt Boulton