After some impressive squad-building over recent summers, are Tottenham on the verge of throwing it all away?
If you believe the papers and the pundits, Gareth Bale’s departure from White Hart Lane is inevitable.
And yet it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, as we all know, it simply comes down to money.
If Tottenham want to stand firm in the face of world record bids then they will keep the player. But if there really is such a thing as an offer too good to be true, then they have only themselves to blame when they almost inevitably fall short next season.
With three years to run on his current deal, there is no need for Spurs to sell.
Perhaps his value will never be higher. It will almost certainly never again reach the frankly absurd figures being bandied about in recent days. But Daniel Levy needs to decide if Bale is worth more to him as a Tottenham player or as a commodity.
Yes he could sell the Welshman for in excess of £80million, but how much of that money would be reinvested into the team?
He may say all of it, and yet at clubs across the country, incoming transfer fees are invariably snaffled up by this necessity or that. Rarely is a club allowed to spend even the majority of what they bring in from player sales. After all, there is a business to run.
And so just as Tottenham take one huge step forward with the signing of Roberto Soldado – the type of striker fans have been crying out for; a man who could make a genuine difference as they attempt to break into the top four – so they sell Steven Caulker to Cardiff with Bale’s future hanging in the balance.
They may be two men at very different ends of the footballing spectrum, but they could have been integral to Spurs’ future. With Younes Kaboul’s injury record and the failed move for Vlad Chiriches, Tottenham have sold a young defender with the potential to become one of England’s finest; and one who would have featured prominently next season given the number of games Tottenham will play.
Last summer Spurs signed three players who took them to another level. They built on what they had and they very nearly prospered from it.
That they didn’t make the top four should be forgotten in light of the arrival of Soldado and Nacer Chadli. Their squad is stronger than both Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s, and now is the time for them to keep everything they have as they strive for what they want – a place among Europe’s elite.
Selling Caulker was one step backwards, but selling Bale would undo so much of the good work of the last few seasons.
Tottenham have slowly and smartly been building a team to challenge not just for the top four but for the title, and I believe they are one striker short of having just that.
There is no need to sell Bale; but there is a need to keep him. When it is that simple, surely Levy wouldn’t be so foolish as to accept a bid no matter how large it may be.
image: © Shiraz Chakera