Villas-Boas: Champions League spot to ensure Bale stays at Spurs
Andre Villas-Boas has been assured Gareth Bale will stay at Tottenham Hotspur to play Champions League football next season, raising the stakes in the club's fight for a top-four finish.
Bale has attracted interest from Real Madrid following a season at White Hart Lane that has led to him being the bookmakers' favourite for tomorrow's PFA Player of the Year award.
The Wales midfielder has ambitions of playing in Europe's top competition again, two years after starring in the Champions League under Harry Redknapp, and failure to qualify will intensify concern about his departure.
Villas-Boas has been told by Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, that returning to club football's elite would ensure Bale remains in his squad, but in doing so he added foundation to the fears that Bale will leave if the team miss their target.
The Tottenham manager, confirming Bale would stay if a top-four finish is secured, said: "That's the information that I have from the club. The club is committed to keeping the best assets. That's the only way that we can ensure that we are in the top four every year.
"Gareth is part of that project bearing in mind that he has been amazing this season. Hopefully we can develop him to a greater extent."
Tottenham start the weekend in fifth place but finishing in the top four is still in their own hands as they have a game in hand on Arsenal and are still to play Chelsea, their two main rivals for qualification. Villas-Boas' team face Wigan this afternoon at the DW Stadium and welcome back Aaron Lennon from a knee injury.
The Spurs manager is considering moving Bale back out to the wing – where he enjoyed success in the victory over Manchester City last weekend – rather than the central role he has been given in recent months.
Bale's versatility is another reason why Villas-Boas believes his player should win the PFA award tomorrow evening. Villas-Boas said: "Gareth has had a major development this year. He has played in so many positions and has had such a big impact in those positions. We are happy that he has been nominated but we would be even happier if he was to win."
Tottenham will move third in the table if they win at Wigan, although Villas- Boas is wary of Roberto Martinez's men as they are scrapping for survival.
"Wigan have become experienced in these kind of situations where they are able to jump out of the position where they are in the final few fixtures," he said. "It's extremely difficult to play teams that are fighting for that position, for salvation."
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