Gareth Bale

Is Gareth Bale slipping from Villas-Boas’s grasp?

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After Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale completed his treble of major English accolades with the FWA Footballer of the Year award, rumors flew that he could be exiting White Hart Lane for a massive sum of money.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has been trying desperately to insist Bale will be staying, but it’s a tall task for him to ward off Europe’s top clubs when they come shaking large wads of cash.

After the PFA ceremony, Villas-Boas was quoted with saying he would be “extremely surprised” if Bale were to exit this summer “because this is the assurance I have.”  In what can most likely be attributed to the manager doing his best to keep his most prized players at the club, he may not be so optimistic now.

Villas-Boas has now said the future of his star winger is “out of my control,” showing the gaffer’s relative inability to have any say in what happens this summer. As much as he would love to retain the services of the League’s best player this season, ultimately he is now publicly resigned to any possibility.  Such a public admission shows what could end up being an inevitable result.

Former French star and current Real Madrid director of football Zinedine Zidane recently said he believes even a £60 million price tag wouldn’t deter top clubs from making an attempt at snatching him away from the current grasp of White Hart Lane.  Zidane reasoned, “After the season he has just had – and still being so young of course Gareth Bale is going to be one of the most expensive players in the world if he decides to move.”

Whether the 23-year old superstar remains loyal to Spurs or heads out abroad in search of silverware, he is lighting the soccer world on fire – and will almost certainly become fantastically rich in the process.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.