By Ewan Roberts
Former England No.1 David James has urged Tottenham to keep hold of Gareth Bale, arguing that the only player capable of replacing the Welshman is Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo.
The PFA and FWA Player of the Year has his heart set on a move to the Spanish capital, where he would link up with the Portuguese attacker, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is adamant that the 24-year-old is not for sale.
And goalkeeper James, who is currently juggling a trio of roles as player/assistant manager with IBV in Iceland and a pundit with BT Sport, believes that it would be virtually impossible for the north Londoners to replace Bale.
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"If Tottenham are looking at how they develop the team – and they've got one player in Bale who, for pretty much two years now, has been the talk of Premier League football – how do you replace that?
"Well, you have to go and then buy Ronaldo, surely. Are you going to get the same things? That's the problem. You can't replace someone, man-for-man, with that kind of ability at the moment.
"That's not to say that someone won't come up and develop into a better player than [Bale], that's a possibility.
"But the thing with Tottenham is that, unlike the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, who have squads of tremendous talent and the money to buy more tremendous talent, I think Bale has been such a fundamental part of Tottenham's success that essentially you would have to restructure the whole team [should he leave]."
Bale scored or assisted 25 Premier League goals for Tottenham last season – 12 of which came against James's former clubs – and is only likely to leave White Hart Lane should Madrid lodge a world-record offer.
The former England keeper will be joining the likes of Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves as part of the punditry team for BT Sport's Premier League coverage and feels that the younger line-up can bring more up-to-date insight.
"There's a lot of current experience as opposed to having not played the game for a couple of decades in some cases," James enthused.
"Players knowing other players, not having to be precious about what they say, there's a little more of an understanding into the personality of these players."
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