Tottenham and Wales winger Gareth Bale.
It has been a simply sensational season for Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, who has hit the form of his career so far to truly establish himself as a world class talent after a tricky beginning to his career.
The 23-year-old started his career at Southampton as a left-back, and showed plenty of promise in the Championship with the Saints, attracting interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, though he eventually joined Tottenham for around £5million when he was just 17 years old.
He didn’t get off to the best of starts at White Hart Lane, looking somewhat out of depth in the Premier League and being exposed in a struggling Spurs side. He went on a remarkable run of 24 games without being on the winning side for the club and it is thought that they tried to offload him to Birmingham City, who wouldn’t pay Spurs’ asking price of £3million for him.
Things picked up towards the end of the 2009/10 season, as he was moved forward to midfield by manager Harry Redknapp. His development continued next season as he caught the attention of many of Europe’s biggest clubs with a hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter Milan in the Champions League. He looked increasingly dangerous in his new attacking role, with great pace, dribbling and shooting technique making him a constant threat, and he tore apart the world’s best right-back at the time, Maicon, in the return fixture with Inter at White Hart Lane as Spurs earned a shock 3-1 win over the reigning European champions.
Bale finished that season with 11 goals, and continued his rapid rise next season, scoring a number of terrific solo goals to earn praise from his manager as being in the same bracket as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Some thought this praise over-generous at the time, but after an even better season this year there is no question now that Bale is a world class performer ready to move on to one of the world’s biggest clubs. Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG are all desperate to sign him and could offer as much as £85million for the Welshman, making him the most expensive player of all time. Given what he has achieved for Tottenham, dragging them almost single-handedly to a challenge for fourth place, he could replicate the success of the likes of Messi and Ronaldo with better players around him.
There are few other players in the world who can take on entire defences or score so many superb solo goals. Bale’s pace and technique make him a nightmare for defenders, and he could have a goal-of-the-season category all of his own this year, as he was rightly voted PFA and FWA Player of the Year.
Still only 23, Bale can go right to the top, and while it will be a blow for the Premier League to lose such a talent, it would also be amazing to see what he can do at a club like Real Madrid.