Hypothetically, if Newcastle had have equalized against Arsenal at St James’ Park on the last day of the season and Tottenham had have finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League, would it have made a difference to this summer’s transfer saga bonanza that is Gareth Bale to Real Madrid?
Jenny Leigh takes a look...
The Champions League is the post prestigious competition at club level and the continent’s elite regard it as the most coveted title so, naturally, the best players want to be involved.
The Champions League is an opportunity unlike no other for the top clubs and players to test themselves against the best of their generation. Players of Bale’s quality want to compete against the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and so on and so forth.
They want to star on the big stage with their name in lights and if their club doesn’t qualify, it blocks their ambition to achieve that status, at least temporarily.
Look at Liverpool’s situation with Luis Suarez who has cited his Champions League ambitions as his primary reason for wanting to leave Anfield.
Equally, the money the Champions League generates for clubs means they can attract other top players – clubs that don’t compete in the elite competitions are at a disadvantage when approaching the best players.
Firstly, Real Madrid are in the Champions League but that’s probably not the main reason a player like Bale would want to go there. Clubs of that stature are few and far between – only Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich are of that calibre. They are the most successful, glamorous, popular and powerful clubs in the world and playing for them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Of course Gareth Bale wants to play in the Champions League ideally but that’s not his only dream when considering a move to the Spanish capital – it’s the name, the image, the stars, the stadium, the history, the legends, the immortality of it all, I suspect, not to mention the wages and the weather.
Plus, look at players like Radamel Falcao who opted to sign for recently promoted French side AS Monaco who are not in the Champions League and, at present, are nowhere near it. They may have the money, but they’re not in the class of Real Madrid by a long distance.
Falcao went for the money, obviously, along with James Rodriguez and former Tottenham target Joao Moutinho and they may get a place next time around but the Champions League obviously wasn’t that vital to their moves or to their agents bank balances.
In all likelihood, if Spurs had have finished fourth last term and qualified for the Champions League, it would have made a player like Gareth Bale feel that the club were moving onwards and upwards and would have enticed him to stay at least another year but, ultimately, that is not the only attraction of a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona or any other club of that stature.
Those clubs compete for domestic titles and that has to be factored in – Bale is unlikely to win the Premier League with Tottenham any more than he is the Champions League, in reality.
Sure, money is important, but if that were his main desire, he would be edging for a move to Manchester City or Monaco or PSG, not Real Madrid exclusively. For him, it’s about dreams and what it means to play for one of the most glamorous, successful and famous clubs in existence and that is not solely dependent on the Champions League.
The difference it would have made for Spurs to be involved at Europe’s top table this term is that it would have bought them a little more time with Bale and made more of case for him to stay but it would likely have been just a postponement of the inevitable until next summer.
image: © Jan S0L0