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

News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us