EPL: Why Bale must join Real

As night follows day, talent follows pedigree. Gareth Bale was always going to join Real Madrid.

The question was never really should he stay or go, but how much would it take to satisfy his personal ambition.

Despite his wholesome appearance, the Welsh winger is not the doting boy next door to take home to mother.

He's neither provincial nor naive.

He's ready for the biggest football city of them all.

The kid from Cardiff wants to become a man in Madrid.

He's outgrown Tottenham Hotspur and in some respects, sadly, the English Premier League itself.

Only Manchester City could match the £100 million (S$194m) package that the Spaniards will dangle before Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

They didn't pick up the phone. No other British club called either. Bale's destiny is beyond the domestic game.

For that reason alone, Bale must turn his back on a league that, through fear or a lack of finances, lacked the swaggering courage of the Spaniards to pay Tottenham the going rate for a global superstar speeding towards an untouchable peak.

It's extraordinary to think that City could find no place for the man tipped to be Cristiano Ronaldo's natural successor as the world's finest winger.

Under Roberto Mancini last season, City's lack of pace and attacking dynamism were cruelly exposed in both the EPL and particularly the Champions League.

The only men faster than Bale were celluloid heroes wearing costumes.

Manuel Pellegrini manages the world's wealthiest club.

Surely a bid wasn't beyond the brand-conscious oligarchs.

In all likelihood, Bale probably views Madrid as a more desirable destination than the blue half of Manchester (who wouldn't), but the option wasn't even his to consider.

With no one in the Premier League seemingly prepared to match Bale's ambition, he's left only with a chance to reign in Spain.

Delaying tactic

Tottenham's final-day failure to qualify for the Champions League hardly helped their cause, but the top-four chase was a delaying tactic, a temporary distraction away from the blindingly obvious. Bale had become bigger than his environment.

His peerless growth is partially due to Andre Villas-Boas, who must feel he's about to become an unwitting victim of his own success.

His Tottenham predecessor Harry Redknapp still had some concerns over Bale's fitness, longevity and ability to take an intimidating stranglehold on a game.

He offered the Welshman freedom within the limits of the flanks.

Only Villas-Boas handed over the keys around the penalty box, truly freeing Bale to pick locks at will.

In a loose No. 10 role, he robbed and plundered for fun last season, becoming a true master of his craft.

Villas-Boas made it possible for Bale to practically leave his calling card outside the Bernabeu.

Their relationship is warm, respectful and honest, one built on genuine gratitude and that is unlikely to change, but Bale can't stick those qualities in his trophy cabinet.

Real's new coach Carlo Ancelotti might be a stranger now, but so are title chases and regular Champions League campaigns. There's nothing like a pretty silver trinket or two to celebrate the start of a beautiful friendship.

When I watched Bale smash that remarkable 20-metre strike against Sunderland on the final day of last season, the goal felt more like a parting gesture than an act of loyalty.

He was saying goodbye with a flourish - a last wave of that magical wand.

Bale was going out as he came in - brilliantly, beautifully and hypnotically, and on his own terms.

The greatest performers can't leave a stage any other way.

Of course, straw-clutching Spurs fans will speak of the 24-year-old's young family, his settled home life and attachment to north London.

But the Welshman isn't Steven Gerrard at Liverpool or Ryan Giggs at Manchester United (and Tottenham aren't either of those clubs.)

He isn't a diehard Londoner born within a whiff of the great kebab stalls around White Hart Lane.

He isn't even English. He's a level-headed, ambitious professional flattered by the persistent overtures of the world's most glamorous football club.

When Real return with an obscene pile of cash and perhaps even a couple of handy players more than worthy of a Tottenham first-team shirt, Bale is gone and the Premier League is lumbered with an uninspiring, unhappy ending before the season even starts.

Cristiano Ronaldo left the EPL to satisfy the Iberian dreams of his Portuguese childhood.

Bale may leave to satisfy a professional thirst that the EPL can no longer quench.

Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and the like are welcome assets, but they are no Gareth Bale. They are not even British.

Bale deserves a chance to join a club, culture and stature worthy of his unique attributes.

In truth, the repetitive cycle of top-four chases and maddening near-misses are beneath the man's talents.

He's a trapped, caged animal if he stays at Spurs. Madrid could make him a monster.

 

npsports@sph.com.sg


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