COMMENTARY | If Gareth Bale is to leave Tottenham Hotspur and possibly the Premier League this coming summer, he will do so after being named the league's best player.
Bale swept at Sunday's awards ceremony, taking home Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year honors. He joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Andy Gray as the only players to win both awards in the same season. Bale won POTY as a 21-year old future star in 2011, and his most recent achievements could cause an increase to his already massive price-tag.
Along with picking up two trophies, Bale was also named to the PFA Team of the Year. Joining him there is defender Jan Vertonghen, who featured for Spurs at center back and left back throughout his debut Premier League season. The entire PFA TOTY can be found here.
Bale is currently on 19 goals and four assists in Premier League action this season, and he has been especially fantastic since the new year. Starting back on January 30, he kicked off a run that saw him notch ten goals over eight games across all competitions. After being slowed down by an ankle injury that he suffered during Europa League play, Bale returned to form and found the back of the net in league contests against Manchester City and Wigan.
None of this is to suggest, however, that Bale was the undisputed Player of the Year. Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who was potentially on his way to winning the Golden Boot until the biting incident that occurred last weekend ended his season early, was the deserved winner of the award in the eyes of many fans and analysts. Voting had already taken place before Suarez bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
As others before me have pointed out, any Player of the Year award means different things to different people. For some, it's largely above stats over anything else. Overall talent and the ability to dominate in multiple areas of the field are the most important things for others. This time around, POTY had to, for my money, go to either Bale or Suarez.
All bias aside, I would have voted for Suarez.
Of the two, Suarez is the only one that was a true Player of the Year candidate during the fall months. Bale's form in late winter and early spring had him up there with the best footballers in the world, and his contributions to his club cannot be denied. Suarez has, however, consistently been elite since the start of the campaign.
These things are largely popularity contests regardless of the country or sport. When comparing the two, Bale is, for those outside of the Liverpool and Arsenal communities, the more likable guy in several ways. The fact is that it wouldn't have been an injustice if either he or Suarez had won the hardware. We're now left with a question that won't be answered until summer arrives:
Will Bale stick around at Tottenham to defend his award?
For more: Suarez banned
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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