James Lawton: Tottenham face a paradox this summer - can they afford to sell Gareth Bale?

The Welshman is the most dynamic footballer produced in Britain since George Best

It has been evident for some years now that Gareth Bale is in possession of the most dynamic football talent produced in these islands since the birth of George Best.

Yes, of course there have been other extraordinary eruptions of native flair. Paul Gascoigne had a haunting, sometimes even divine touch. The young Wayne Rooney persuaded Arsène Wenger, among many others, that he was potentially the best English player he had ever seen. The early announcement of Ryan Giggs that he was world class has been sustained with extraordinary consistency and maybe it is a road Jack Wilshere is set to follow.

Yet since the stunning virtuosity of Best has anyone quite matched the easy, stunning power of the 23-year-old from Cardiff?

His eighth goal in his last six games was so destructively brilliant it lifted even the gnarled old competitive heart of West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce out of the trenches long enough for him to announce that no club currently have a bigger debt to a single player than Tottenham Hotspur do to Bale.

Even as the beaten Allardyce offered his tribute, bookmakers were installing Bale as the runaway favourite in the race for player of the year, pushing him comfortably ahead of such formidable rivals as Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Juan Mata and Michu. Van Persie, who has already virtually delivered the title to his new club Manchester United, is merely 6-4 against. Bale is odds on at 8-13.

However, if Bale has just about annexed the betting market, far more intriguing is the effect of his deeds on the thinking of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

The Spurs chief has, of course, been making giant strides away from the angst which came with what some deemed his shabby treatment of Tottenham's former manager Harry Redknapp.

Andre Villas-Boas has put the agonies of his Stamford Bridge tenure behind him as his new club have overtaken Chelsea and put Arsenal in their slipstream in the race for Champions League qualification. The sales last summer of such apparently vital figures as Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart have been effortlessly absorbed in the rise and rise of the powerful Mousa Dembélé.

Levy, previously known most for his hard financial dealing, is living a football statesman's dream.

But then how comfortably can he enjoy his success under the weight of what is certain to be the biggest decision of his reign at White Hart Lane?

Real Madrid and Barcelona are the leading admirers of Bale and both are said to be willing to enshrine his finishing power in offers of more than £50m. We are also told that Levy had made it clear that such a figure would constitute no more than an opening gambit.

Paradoxically, though, the most haunting question for Levy is whether he can afford to sell Bale.

For the buoyancy of AVB's team – and their growing potential to challenge at the top of English football and perhaps move beyond the initially brilliant impact of Redknapp's men on the Champions League two seasons ago – the loss of Bale would not be so much an amputation as an evisceration.

Bale, plainly, has become the heart and the soul and the ferocious striking arm of a club who have reason to believe they are finally back in touch with some of their old glory.

For Real, the lure of Bale is especially dazzling when they imagine the level of power that he would bring alongside that of Cristiano Ronaldo – or replace if relations between the club and the supernova worsen. Barça's mouth-watering prospect is of releasing the Welshman's devastating finishing on defences already raddled by the axis of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

What is beyond question now is Bale's ability to sustain the impact he made so dramatically in that first rush into Europe as a 21-year-old. He ransacked Internazionale at San Siro with a second-half hat-trick and in the return game at White Hart Lane he tormented the celebrated Maicon and his bemused coach Rafa Benitez.

Luis Figo, former world player of the year, sat on the Inter bench in a degree of shock, murmuring to Redknapp as they left the field, "Bale is amazing, he has killed us twice – he is impossible to contain."

For a little while recently some doubted the force of his momentum. There were criticisms of his tendency to dive out of tackles, question-marks against his long-term resolve to live under the harshest pressure. Such apprehension seems quaint now, not least to his coach. "When the ball leaves his boot it is incredible, he is a great, great talent and to see him keep on trying until the last minute exemplifies his talent," said Villas-Boas before endorsing him as a sure-fire player of the year.

No doubt he will be making the point even more eloquently, not to say desperately, to his chairman.

Award odds

For PFA Player of the Year 2012-13:

8/13 G Bale (Spurs)

6/4 R van Persie (Man United)

25/1 L Suarez (Liverpool)

40/1 J Mata (Chelsea), Michu (Swa)

Flying Welshman: Bale in numbers

19 Goals scored by Gareth Bale for Tottenham this season – seven more than his previous best total

10 Matches since Tottenham last won without Bale scoring - a 3-1 victory over Reading on New Year's Day

£5m Initial amount paid by Spurs to Southampton for Bale in 2007 – with £2m following a year later

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test