COMMENTARY | It was back during the first weekend of August that the transfer saga involving Tottenham Hotspur star player Gareth Bale and Spanish giants Real Madrid had essentially turned into a very public game of Chicken. Either Spurs were going to flinch and grant Bale his wish, Bale would cease his pursuit of a move to the world's most profitable club, or Real Madrid would have no choice but to cave in to the demands of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
That game is now over. We won't know who won until many years down the road.
The two clubs confirmed on September 1 that Bale had been sold to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £85.3m. One could argue that Spurs had unofficially broken the story on the final Friday of August when they announced that they had signed Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches, and Christian Eriksen. That business coupled with Tottenham's already historic summer spending spree all indicated that chairman Daniel Levy was utilizing the Bale money even before the Welsh wonder could put pen to paper on his Real contract.
This was, of course, the only outcome for the story that began perhaps as early as the spring of 2012. Opinions on Bale's status as one of the top players in the world aside, anything in the ballpark of £85m for a player who doesn't have the last name of Ronaldo or Messi is impossible for all but the biggest clubs on earth, a Manchester United or, yes, a Real Madrid, to turn down. Tottenham fans may not be celebrating the team's best player leaving, but Spurs deserve credit for losing a star in the best possible way. The influx of talent that has arrived at White Hart Lane since July has put the club in a better position looking forward than they were a year ago at this time.
In that same light, nobody, not even those who live and die Tottenham, should criticize Bale for making the switch. Bale can mention Champions League and insist that playing for Real is his dream, and his agents can cite a young Bale wearing a Real shirt until all are blue in their faces. The truth of the matter is that an athlete who was making very good money at one employer is now set to make silly money, reportedly £300k per week, at a different franchise. It's hardly a unique story, nor is it one that should erase the memories of what Bale achieved while wearing Tottenham Lilywhite.
Perhaps what has hurt the Tottenham fan base the most over the past couple of weeks is that Bale proved to be what many thought he wasn't. The perception for years was that Bale was content where he was, that he loved playing for manager Andre Villas-Boas, and that money didn't mean to him what it meant to others. It turns out that Bale really is more Luka Modric than Ledley King. Real came calling, first via the press and then with official offers, and Bale told his people to pick up.
If there's anything for fans to take from this whole ordeal, it's the reminder that idolizing players in this day just about always ends in heartbreak. Cristiano Ronaldo could leave Real as soon as next summer. David Beckham and Thierry Henry found fame and fortune in multiple countries for multiple teams. Sure, one-club men will occasionally pop up, but the best of the best are ultimately always going to arrive at the biggest franchises in the world.
As for everybody involved in the business end of Sunday's deal, there remain way more questions than answers. Will Bale flop or thrive in Spain? Have Spurs reinvested wisely? What else, if anything, should Tottenham have done to compensate for losing Bale? Are Spurs really nothing more than a selling club? We don't have an answer to a single one of those queries, but there is one thing I can say with full certainty.
I'm glad this whole thing is over.
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Gareth Bale
- Real Madrid