Gareth Bale has been named PFA Player of the Year and to me it was a difficult decision because there were three clearly outstanding candidates – Bale, Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez – and you could have made a case for any of them to win.
When it comes down to such fine margins the key factor seems to be when the voting takes place and Bale was in sparkling form this year just when the ballots were being cast.
People say that footballers don't take the PFA award seriously but that is not the case. It is something you actually get excited about as a player.
You get the voting forms in and you give them a lot of attention – obviously some players spend more time on the forms than others – but generally it is a big thing for everyone in the dressing room.
Of course we also have the Football Writers' award but in the minds of the players there is no doubt that the PFA one is the one you want to win.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as being praised by your fellow players. The Writers' award is never taken as seriously in the eyes of the players – it is not something we have an input in – and you feel at times that the media have players they like more than others for issues off the pitch.
This is the second time in three seasons that Gareth Bale has won the award and although his improvement has been hyped I'm not sure he is that different a player now than he was then.
His strengths are still the same – he is physically strong and exceptionally quick – where you could say he has developed is when it comes to finding the back of the net. He is scoring more goals and his free-kick taking has also improved.
But as a player his core strengths are the same – and you see them every time he is in full flow. There are suggestions that they want to convert him into a more central role but I still think he is best when he is out wide.
I don't feel he has reached his peak quite yet either – there is still a little more to come.
I can see him eventually leaving Tottenham for a new challenge and maybe trying his luck in another country. If Tottenham don't qualify for the Champions League this season they may struggle to keep him – he may stick around one more year but I think there is every chance he will move on unless Spurs become Champions League regulars, which is a big ask.
It is rare that you see big-name British players going abroad but that is pretty understandable because the Premier League has traditionally been the league everyone wants to be in – not least because it has the biggest wages.
However, there are obviously some clubs that would suit Bale more than others – and if you look at the sides that are currently shining in Europe – instantly I would say I could see him as a Real Madrid or Bayern Munich player.
Looking at the PFA Team of the Year and I think they have got it just about right. You could make cases for other players who have done well but it is hard to fit them in. For example I have been very impressed with Christian Benteke at Aston Villa but he was never going to get in simply because of the form of Van Persie and Suarez.
This to me explains away pretty much any of the players that some people would call snubs. Usually you can find a player in their position who was just that little bit better – thus keeping them out.
- Sports & Recreation
- Gareth Bale
- Luis Suarez