Whenever Tottenham are linked with a move for former White Hart Lane star Gareth Bale, fans get uneasily sentimental.

Whether it’s recalling the 5,843,867 games they went without winning a game with the Welshman in their side to the happier times when he was crashing in iconic screamers against West Ham and Sunderland, Bale is remembered as a hero in north London.

But a return to Tottenham cannot be permitted, if it means the club let their chief creative force leave.

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Christian Eriksen has developed from a potential world class talent into a world class player during his time at Spurs, webbing together the varying aspects of Tottenham’s attack and orchestrating one of the finest forward lines the club has had in a long time.

And while Bale has achieved things in his career Eriksen can currently only aspire to, a swap involving the Denmark international moving to the Bernabeu makes no sense for Tottenham.

One of the reasons Harry Kane has been so prolific since breaking into the first team has been Eriksen’s presence, with the former Ajax star making over 30 league appearances in four of his five full seasons in England so far.

Their combination has never been as simple as one passing and the other finishing. Instead, Eriksen often makes that first step in Spurs’ attacks, dropping deeper to play the ball out wide, seeing and completing passes no other player in the team can. That’s probably the most distinct difference between Eriksen and Bale.

While Bale is still a remarkable footballer capable of the outrageous, his ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck and dictate has waned in recent years. While he did that pretty much exclusively in his final season at Tottenham, it’s a label he’s never acquired in Spain’s capital, largely due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence.

Sure, Eriksen can go missing for brief chunks in a season, but whenever Tottenham are made ‘surprise title challengers’ by the press or pick up a great result in the Champions League, it’s Eriksen who’s in great form.

His contributions have certainly been overshadowed in recent weeks by Son Heung-min, who seems to be the Bale replacement Tottenham fans have been crying out for since the latter’s departure in 2013.

A new inside forward is not what Tottenham need. Son has proved himself as one of the league’s best players, while Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela are more than capable of pitching in when needed.

What Tottenham’s attacking play hinges on is Eriksen finding pockets of space when in possession and feeding Kane, Dele Alli and wide players with quality ball. They don’t need another wide player who cuts inside and shoots. Of course, that’s not Bale’s only quality, but it is one that stands out.

Whether Tottenham will have the chance to re-sign Bale is a different conversation entirely, but they can’t risk jeopardising the genuine progress they’ve made in recent years for a cheap shot of sentimentality. 

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