Tottenham Hotspur are confident that they will get one more season from Gareth Bale, their highly coveted left winger who has become a target for the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale over the past 12 months.
The club agreed a new contract with Bale last month until 2015 that puts his wages at around £70,000 a week and also gives the club the security that they will be able to realise a significant fee on the player. While Bale, 21, admitted in a recent interview in the Spanish newspaper AS that he would like to like to play abroad, he is prepared to give Spurs one more year.
His most likely destination in the long term is Barcelona, who have taken great interest in his development over the last season, particularly in the Champions League. A quiet individual who is very close to his parents, Bale, who does not turn 22 until July, is in no rush to leave the club and Spurs hope that he will be an even more valuable asset in a year's time.
The summer of next year is also likely to see the departure of Harry Redknapp, the favourite to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager when the Italian's contract runs out at the end of Euro 2012 – providing England qualify. The appointment of a new manager would be a natural watershed in the club's development and the sale of Bale for upwards of £35m would provide funds for the new man to spend.
After Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid that sealed Spurs' Champions League elimination, Bale was embraced on the pitch at the end of the game by Jose Mourinho in a none-too-subtle display of the Real manager's admiration for the player. Redknapp joked afterwards that if the club could get footage of the incident they would report Mourinho.
Bale said after the game that Mourinho had done nothing more than wish him luck for the rest of the season. "I am happy here [at Spurs] and I am not concentrating on anything else," Bale said. He added that although Spurs face a daunting run-in that includes away games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool and Wednesday's home game against Arsenal, they did not fear any team.
Bale said: "We have a hell of a run-in. But if we beat the teams above us, then it will only be good for us and it will be in our hands. We need to win every game. We will go out there to win every game. We know that we are capable of beating all the other teams. We beat them all last season at some point so there is no reason why we can't get maximum points. We have the players and are capable of scoring goals, we are not scared of anyone.
"I don't think we are far from winning a competition like the league or Champions League but it is mainly the consistency that we need. We are new to the competition and it has been a learning curve. We will continue to get better, we are a young team, we will learn from our experiences."
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