Hello, Spurs nation! Welcome to another edition of Dispatches from #batcountry, a feature where we take crazy internet rumors about Tottenham Hotspur and tell you why they're stupid and you shouldn't believe them. Today's rumor is a little bit different in that we're addressing a comment by a former Tottenham player and and club legend, but the debunking is more related to how the media is addressing what was said, than what was actually said.
So, Glenn Hoddle opened his mouth yesterday and said some things about Gareth Bale, and more specifically, about Bale's (impending? likely? possible?) move to Real Madrid. The remarks were made in a recent radio interview with talkSPORT:
"Personally I don't think Gareth Bale wants to leave yet unless it was to one of the Manchester clubs... If he goes abroad he'll find it slightly difficult. He needs to be settled off the pitch and you get the feeling that he's had a new baby and I'm not sure if he's ready for that [a move abroad] ...
... When you're 27 or 28-years-old you might be ready and mature enough to settle. You have to be settled off the pitch before you get your form on it. It's a really big decision for him."
Glenn Hoddle is a Spurs legend. I refuse to deride a club hero such as Glenn Hoddle, and so I won't. And Hoddle actually has a point when he talks about Gareth maybe not being so keen about moving overseas. It's a well-known fact that Gareth Bale's girlfriend recently had a baby, and that Bale has very strong ties not just to Great Britain, but specifically to Wales. It's one of the rationales that we Spurs fans use to convince ourselves that Gareth is perfectly happy in Tottenham and will NEVER EVER want to leave. So sure, it's conceivable that, all things being equal and Gareth moving is a foregone conclusion, he'd prefer to move to Manchester over Madrid, as it's easier to settle in and maintain your form.
But things are not equal, and it's not a foregone conclusion that Bale is gone, despite what you're reading in the media. And here's the thing about Daniel Levy: he knows that he's building something really special at Tottenham Hotspur, and he's probably not going to sell his best player to a club that is a direct competitor to Spurs, unless he gets an absolutely unreal amount of money.
But Uncle Menno, you say, Spurs have strengthened their rivals before! Yes, dear reader, they have. There was Sol "Judas" Campbell back in 2001 (though that's a bit of a different situation), Michael Carrick to United in 2006, and Dimitar Berbatov, also to United in 2008. And of all of those, Berbatov is the one that made the most sense for Spurs financially; £33.4m for an aging Bulgarian striker who never seemed to really fit in to Alex Ferguson's plans is just stupid money.
So let's say the Madrid rumor isn't bulls**t and they really are offering £85m for Gareth. £85m is already an unreal amount of money and, personally, I'd gnaw my hand off to sell Bale at that price. But still, an English club would need to offer significantly more than that to have any chance of signing Gareth Bale. Because the general rule of thumb is that if you're a team with Champions League ambitions, you don't strengthen your rivals above you on the table, or at the very least you don't make it easy on them. If Sheikh Mansour decides to pony up £100m for Bale's services or there's a bidding war, then, well. But I doubt even Paddy Power would put odds on that happening.
And to be fair to Mr. Hoddle, nowhere in the interview does he say that he personally thinks Bale should sign with a Manchester club. In fact, his final quote on the matter is thus:
"I imagine that if Tottenham get an offer like [£85m from Real Madrid], no-one would blame them for taking it."
So, this #batcountry post is more a reflection on the British media than on Hoddle. Still, I maintain you won't see Gareth Bale in a Manchester shirt of any color next season. If he goes, it'll be overseas.