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Life after Bale is a beautiful thing

Richard Barrett explains why Tottenham fans should be delighted to say adiós to their Welsh winger, Gareth Bale.

Tottenham have lived in the shadow of their North London neighbours for far too long. Despite posting a club-record seventy-two points during the 2012/13 season, they were cruelly pipped to the post by Arsene Wenger’s Gunners by the minimum. Spurs fans were distraught.

Arsenal nonchalantly sat back and enjoyed the ups-and-downs of the season’s rollercoaster of emotions, confident in the knowledge that they would undoubtedly reach their destination come the end of the campaign. The same could not be said for Andres Villas-Boas and his charges.

Gareth Bale played a starring role in an inspiring, yet ultimately unsuccessful season. Spurs finished fifth, and will compete in the Europa League for another season. Despite the Europa League continuing to gain credibility as a top competition, it is not the Champions League. It is a feeling similar to being the star of a team when growing up, yet having to play in League 2 for Morecambe FC while a supposed less-talented friend of yours gets a game with Manchester United in the Premier League. Arsenal dug deep when it mattered and that’s what got them over the line.

Spurs fans are at panic stations at present. “If we couldn’t qualify for the Champions League with Bale, how will we do it without the world’s third-best player?”. If you are a Spurs fan and think this way, then Sky’s brainwashing appears to be working.

Yes, Gareth Bale is a fantastic talent and continues to improve, but to put him on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, even the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Radamel Falcao or Andres Iniesta, is absurd. They are the ramblings of a man that is high on Sky Sports News.

If Daniel Levy can get in excess of £100 million for Gareth Bale, then he should be paraded throughout the streets of London with celebrations reminiscent of Tottenham’s ‘famous’ Carling Cup win.

The sale of Bale, and before the lynch-mob gather their pikes let me explain, could possibly be a good thing for Tottenham and usher in a new era of Champions League football. AVB is one of the hottest properties in European football management at present and has built up a squad of highly-talented players.

Since taking the helm in July 2012, AVB has filled the gaps left by the likes of Rafa Van der Vaart and Luka Modric with equally astute players, such as Moussa Dembele, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson. The signing of Jan Vertonghen will go down as one of the best pieces of business in recent years, bringing the Belgian to White Hart Lane for a measly £10 million.

The addition of players of a certain calibre led Tottenham to break the Premier League record for most points in a campaign without qualifying for the Champions League. An unwanted record, but a record no doubt.

Tottenham are a club that are moving in One Direction (and I don’t mean the Louis Tomlinson to Doncaster Rovers type of ‘football-is-dead’ direction). This writer firmly believes that the 2013/14 season will be the year in which Spurs finally reach the Promised Land.

The departure of Bale will allow the supporting cast to come into their own and reach their full potential without the pressure of the crowd on their back telling them to “GET THE BALL TO BALE!” every second. Holtby, Dembele, Sigurdsson, will be given the chance to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and take over that Bale match-winning role.

The arrivals of Paulinho and Nacer Chadli signal Tottenham’s intent to build on last year’s campaign. Bale’s presence alone is off-putting for certain players that feel smothered by the Player of the Year’s shadow and know that they cannot fully express themselves on the pitch without fear of being reprimanded for not getting the ball to Bale.

Paulinho and Sandro can create a formidable Brazilian partnership in the middle for Spurs and one that many teams would struggle to overrun. Bale, like many top players, has a tendency to roam around the pitch looking for the ball. This means that Tottenham’s formation can often lack structure. Bale’s departure would enable AVB to deploy a structured side, that would still pose a threat due to the unpredictability of the likes of Aaron Lennon, Dembele and the highly-talented Chadli.

One player that could benefit most from Bale’s departure is Andros Townsend. The winger is very much a rough diamond, but one that has the potential to become a highly-established Premier League footballer. Townsend was the only light in a very dark season for QPR during the 2012/13 campaign, and is reaching the point in his career where he needs to be playing regular first-team football. If Bale stays, which is highly unlikely, Townsend most definitely goes.

The signing of Roberto Soldado from Valencia could prove to be AVB’s pièce de résistance. The Spaniard’s nose alone guarantees goals. He is an exceptional player, and would be regarded higher in footballing circles had he not spent years living in David Villa and Fernando Torres’ shadows in the Spanish national team. The signing of an out-and-out striker is a no-brainer and also shows that AVB has planned for life after Bale.

Spurs have struggled for goalscoring strikers in recent years, with Adebayor’s form as unpredictable as a packet of Revels. Jermain Defoe has never fully recovered from his bout of ‘Jermain-De-phobia’ in which he acquired a fear of scoring goals, and Clint Dempsey doesn’t know whether he’s a midfielder or a striker.

Soldado’s arrival will benefit Spurs’ wingers, as they will now have a proper target man in the box at all times. Bale’s assists were never his strong point, and he was always inclined to cut in and shoot rather than whip a ball across the box.

Tottenham’s squad are looking as strong as anyone’s, and the expected exorbitant windfall from Bale’s transfer will only lead to further strengthening. The hurt of last year’s fifth-place finish will be fresh in the minds of the Spurs players and they will be ready for battle this year.

After all, if it doesn’t work out Levy could probably get Bale back in two-three years for a fraction of the £100 million after the Welshman fails to adapt to the Primera Liga.

Life after Bale is a beautiful thing.

Sport Is Everything. Richard Barrett.

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