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Gareth Bale Becomes the Face of the Premier League in the Heart of Manhattan

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COMMENTARY | Another major corporation has offered a hint, this one a rather massive hint, that Gareth Bale will remain with Tottenham Hotspur for at least one more season.

The Spurs star, who has been linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid for well over a year, returned from vacation to White Hart Lane this past week for preseason activities. That schedule included the release of Tottenham's new home and away kits for the upcoming 2013-14 season. Bale was one of four current Spurs players to be used as models for the new Tottenham threads, and he told Sky Sports News the following during that event: "I think everyone at the club wants us to finish in the top four, the club wants to be in the top four, and we need to go one better this season and finish in the top four."

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy have both repeatedly stated that Bale will not be sold for any price this summer. Marca, a newspaper that has close ties with Real Madrid, claimed on July 3 that the Spanish side had given up on their pursuit of Bale for the time being.

It now seems that NBC Sports Network is also confident that Bale isn't headed anywhere anytime soon. The station unveiled what the 101 Great Goals website is reporting to be a 40-foot poster of the Welsh wonder in Times Square on Tuesday. This humongous billboard, which depicts Bale celebrating (with the upcoming season's Tottenham kit edited onto the player), is part of NBC's PR campaign to promote the company acquiring the US TV rights for the Premier League. Above the photo of Bale reads two different signs: "Premier League is coming to NBC Sports - August 17."

" Every match. Every team. Every week."

This is not the first time an individual associated with Tottenham has been used in a NBC Premier League advertisement. Spurs players and supporters have been featured in NBCSN TV spots that have run during televised Major League Soccer matches and commercials that aired during this past spring's NHL Playoff games.

I spoke with one individual who knows more about the NBC Premier League TV deal than do I on Tuesday. This person told me: "It would be very odd for NBC to feature Bale if somebody within the company who should know wasn't at least pretty sure that he wasn't leaving. Why take the chance that you'd have to waste the money and manpower to fix it? Think about it. (Manchester) United are far more popular in the US and in New York than are Spurs. It would make far more sense to put up a picture of the United team hoisting the (Premier League) trophy if you thought there might even be a small chance that Bale could leave."

Perhaps just as important in all of this is the unintentional message sent out by NBC. Bale is, in the heart of Manhattan, the face of the most-watched football league on the planet. He is a legitimate star on the world's stage, and he didn't have to go to Spain to get to that level.

All indications, from the comments made by AVB and Levy to the Marca report to Bale training with Spurs and participating in the Tottenham kit unveiling to the NBC billboard, seem to scream that the Player of the Year is staying put up through the close of the summer transfer window. It's all speculation and not much more, of course, until something is confirmed by either the club or the player. One thing is certain considering all that's gone down regarding Bale since May:

It really will be just that more painful of a gut punch for Spurs supporters if he isn't a Tottenham player come this September.

For more: The Marca report

Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.

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