Andre Villas-Boas admits Gareth Bale’s future at Tottenham is likely to hinge on whether they qualify for the Champions League.
Bale has scored 13 times for Spurs this season and also found the net on four occasions for Wales – the latest of which came against Austria on Wednesday night.
While Villas-Boas is delighted to see Bale excelling for club and country, he is also mindful that such exploits will attract the attention of some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Real Madrid are thought to be keen on signing the 23-year-old this summer, and Villas-Boas thinks Tottenham will boost their chances of retaining the player if they can offer him the chance to mix it with Europe’s best next season.
"I think (qualifying will secure his future at Spurs). This is where most of the clubs want to be, and where most of the players want to play," said Villas-Boas, whose side currently sit fourth in the table.
"Gareth’s future is intimately related to what the objectives that we achieve for the season. "Hopefully qualifying for the Champions League means we can attract better players and continue to hold on to our best players.
"It is difficult for other teams with the economic situation as it is to buy a player of this dimension. At the moment we are very, very fortunate to have him and I think we can reach our objectives with him at this level. If we reach our objectives we can hopefully continue to have Gareth in our club."
Bale grabbed the world’s attention in 2010 when he made a mockery of Inter Milan right back Maicon at White Hart Lane.
The Welshman has not rested on his laurels since that memorable night in north London. He has bulked up, improved his pace and now has the ability to play through the middle as a number 10 or a main striker, leading to comparisons with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Because Jermain Defoe is out for up to three weeks due to ankle ligament damage, and Emmanuel Adebayor will only return to training on Friday, Bale may start up front in Saturday’s home game against Newcastle.
"There is a possibility that we continue with the 4-4-2 with Gareth as a striker," said Villas-Boas, who started Bale just behind Defoe at West Brom last weekend.
"He’s having a tremendous year. I think he’s such an outstanding player all round. His performance yesterday was outstanding once again. He’s certainly amongst the five best players (in the league)."
Villas-Boas revealed that Adebayor is only likely to have one training session before Saturday’s game against the Magpies. Togo were knocked out of the African Nations Cup on Sunday night, yet the 28-year-old is still out of the country and will not return to London until Friday.
Given that Spurs are desperately short of strikers, many fans have questioned why Adebayor did not return earlier, but Villas-Boas insists it was always planned that the former Arsenal man would not return until Friday.
The Spurs boss said: "No (he is not back), we’re trying to establish the best flight connections for him," the 35-year-old said.
"He had issues to take care of as the tournament finished for Togo, so at the moment we’re trying to see if we can have him back either for today or tomorrow’s training session.
"I spoke to him Monday morning. I know where he is, I’m not sure if I want to make it public. I don’t think it’s strange. We’ve allowed the players two days off.
"The players come back today for 3pm training. A couple of them come back for 3pm tomorrow. We’ve allowed Ade to come back for Friday if he can’t make today’s."
Villas-Boas revealed that defender Younes Kaboul, who has been out all season with a knee injury, is set to return to training next week.
"He’s going to rejoin training on Monday," the Portuguese said. Still, it’s going to be his first training session since August, so we have to be very, very careful. Hopefully he will be able to play in two to three weeks."