Just a week ago, Gareth Bale looked certain to move to the Premiership, with Manchester United and Tottenham hot on his trail.
For now though, the Welsh international (and ‘Planet of the Apes’ lookalike) will spend the rest of the season at Southampton, with a big summer move to a top Premiership club on the cards.
If he is going to move in the summer, where will he go, and why?
The rumours say Tottenham are in pole position – mainly because there’s no one else apart from them willing to throw 10m at him, and because Manchester United seem uninterested in a prick-waving contest just to sign a 17-year old.
But come summer, things will change. Manchester United will probably win the league, Tottenham will consider 5th spot to be a great achievement and Bale would have had his share of failures while playing for a Championship side.
So let’s look at the pros and cons of joining each side:
Bale and Tottenham
A 10m offer was not enough to pry Bale from Southampton, with The Sun boldly claiming that Bale had turned down Tottenham for a summer move to Manchester United. A nice picture, except there’s nothing decided, so The Sun is just jumping the gun here.
Why would Bale go to Tottenham? Like Taarabt (and Zokora before him), first-team football is a big deal for Bale and anything less than a regular starting spot (or active rotation) would be unfair to the player and his career.
The upshot is that he can build his career at Tottenham and then move upwards to a Champions League club in a couple of years – he’s still 17 and has a long time to go, so there’s no rush where Bale is concerned.
Downside? He’ll be giving up on the chance to be an immediate part of a world-class club. That’s it, really. I’m sure that Tottenham would be able to match the wages United would offer Bale, and already Tottenham are willing to pay more than the rest to buy him.
Bale and Manchester United
Upside – Big club, will be in the hands of a manager who’s nurtured 2-3 generations of young superstars and if he thrives, will be part of a big club for a long, long time.
Downside – won’t get the sort of regular playing time that he would at a smaller club. Evra and Heinze stand in his way, although as Evra has shown, you can take over the first team spot through sheer hard work.
At Manchester United Bale would get the chance to establish himself as the first-choice left-back, and that’s a big, big challenge.
Bale and the rest (Arsenal, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, etc)
No other clubs (apart from Arsenal) emerged as seriously interested parties, but Bale will be closely watched for the rest of the season and depending on his form, several clubs small and large would be vying for his signature.
There’s little doubt about his talents though, and a 10m deal in the summer sounds about par for the course.