LONDON // Who needs David Beckham when you have Gareth Bale? Revisit the past or stick with the future? That is a choice Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, must make over the next few days.
The outcome could shape the rest of Tottenham's season. It is clear there is an obvious attraction of taking Beckham on a three-month loan deal from Los Angeles Galaxy during Major League Soccer's off season - but it would seem to be a move motivated more by business matters than by what is happening on the pitch.
True, Spurs struggled to overcome Fulham at White Hart Lane yesterday and some could argue that the influence of Beckham would benefit the side.
That could well have been the case five years ago, but Beckham - who left Manchester United and the Premier League in 2003 - is now 35 years old. Whether he would have lasted the pace of such an intense encounter is another matter.
Bale on the other hand is 21, the rising star of Premier League football and he produced yet another display of stamina and style. And, when required, he delivered a superbly executed opportunist goal.
Just before half time Bale allowed Rafael van der Vaart to take free kick from 30 yards out and the pair cleverly conspired to come up with something different.
Van der Vaart shaped to shoot but instead rifled the ball into a zone just inside the penalty area.
Bale knew what was coming, lurched ahead of his marker then deftly guided the ball with his forehead beyond Mark Schwarzer, the Fulham goalkeeper.
Mark Hughes' relegation-threatened visitors rallied impressively after the break, but they lacked the guile to break Spurs down. It was an ugly win for Redknapp's men that served to emphasise the fact that they are title contenders, if still outsiders.
The potential arrival of Beckham has its plus points, but it also presents a risk for Spurs. Especially the matter of how it will affect the balance of a title-chasing squad.
Bale has come into his own this season and has formed a formidable midfield quartet along with right-winger Aaron Lennon, the superb Luca Modric and Van de Vaart. To fit Beckham into the side, one of that foursome would have to make way.
There is a bigger picture though. Tottenham's hierarchy could see the acquisition of Beckham as a major asset in their bid to beat West Ham and win the tender to take over London's 2012 Olympic Stadium after the Games.
Following yesterday's win Redknapp toed the party line -but admitted that it was "Beckham's people" or indeed Tottenham's owners who have set the ball rolling
"He just said that he would like to come and play here at Tottenham," said Redknapp. "I've left it to the people at the club. I've passed it on them. They're talking to whoever they have to talk to at his club."
But Redknapp insisted that, far from being a luxury acquisition, Beckham would provide much-needed cover for right-winger Aaron Lennon.
"We've got no-one else to play on the right," he said. "David Bentley keeps picking up injuries on Friday morning. It's a no brainer."
Given what Redknapp has achieved over the last two years at Spurs, it is hard to argue with his judgement - but the temporary arrival at White Hart Lane of Beckham and the media circus that surrounds him could so easily ruin Tottenham's best chance of winning the title in 50 years.