Martin Jol has said that he could have signed Gareth Bale for £5 million when he was in charge at Hamburg back in 2008.
Former Tottenham boss Martin Jol has told TalkSport that he almost signed Welsh superstar Gareth Bale when he was in charge of Hamburg. The Dutchman was sacked by Spurs following a poor start to the 07/08 and took over the reins at the Bundesliga club the following season.
Bale was an outstanding prospect when Spurs signed him from Southampton in 2007 for a fee of £7 million, a hefty price for a 17-year-old. The youngster however struggled to find his feet at White Hart Lane, where he was played as a left back and despite what Jol describes as an “unbelievable” debut display against Manchester United he struggled to get in to the starting lineup thereafter.
The Dutchman claims to have recognised Bale’s talent immediately but he felt others in the club did not see his awesome potential. It was against this backdrop that Spurs tried to offload the future legend and Jol was given the option to snap him up for a bargain price of £5 million but Hamburg couldn’t come up with the cash.
In the interview Jol explained.
“Spurs saw Bale as a left-back, but he probably wasn’t the best left-back in the world.
“He was more creative, he had electric pace, so everybody saw that he was more suited as a forward player, and Harry Redknapp saw that later on.
“I saw his potential straight away, but other people didn’t see that in the early stages of his career and that led to Spurs offering Bale to me when I went to Hamburg.
“We had to pay a lot of money to get him though, about five or six million, which we couldn’t afford at the time.
“I then asked Daniel Levy if we could take him on loan instead, but at that time it was not possible.
“So yes, Hamburg could have bought Bale for £5million because, of course, he was not playing at that moment.
“He couldn’t get into the side, so Spurs offered him to other clubs.”
Luckily for Tottenham they eventually kept the Welsh wizard who subsequently emerged as a sensational winger, however the Premier League side couldn’t hang on to him a few years later when giants Real Madrid came knocking. Still, they pocketed a world record transfer fee of £85 million from Los Blancos in 2013, a considerable improvement on the £5 million they were willing to take for him a few years previously.
Dan O’Mahony, Pundit Arena.