Tottenham-Real Madrid battle for Bale reaches tipping point
By Greg Stobart
Tottenham insist there has been no official bid. Chairman Daniel Levy is adamant that he will not sell. And yet Gareth Bale, meanwhile, has told the club that he is desperate to complete a summer transfer to Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants' concerted, potentially record-breaking pursuit of the Welsh flyer is reaching tipping point.
Real have clearly turned Bale’s head, with the Welshman telling Levy of his intention to move to the Santiago Bernabeu during a conversation in Hong Kong at the Asia Trophy last week.
Levy told Bale then that he will not be sold this summer, a position he maintains privately as the pressure ramps up. The Spurs chief is a notoriously tough negotiator at the best of times, but on this issue more than any before his heels are well and truly dug in.
Senior Spurs sources insisted as late as Sunday night that no official, written bid has been lodged for Bale, but Real's determination to sign the player is in no doubt.
The suspicion in the White Hart Lane offices is that a bid of even £90 million could be on its way. And there is a growing feeling, too, that an offer of that magnitude could be enough to force even Levy to accept.
Still, Bale – who landed in London on Monday with the rest of the Spurs squad - is expected to re-iterate his desire to leave the club in meetings this week.
Levy, whose hardline stance is being backed by billionaire owner Joe Lewis, looks increasingly likely to be forced into making a decision between his personal pride and business sense.
In 2011, the ambitious chairman held firm when Luka Modric tried to force through a move to Chelsea, and Levy wants to shake off his reputation for selling the club’s best players as he attempts to turn Spurs into a European powerhouse in their own right.
Levy also made a promise to his manager, Andre Villas-Boas, that Bale would stay at the club for at least one more season as they target a top-four finish next term.
It was one of the reasons Villas-Boas turned down an approach from Paris Saint-Germain earlier this summer, with the Portuguese maintaining a very strong relationship with his star man after Bale scored 31 goals in all competitions last season.
Real Madrid have told Bale it’s ‘now or never’ for him for move to the Spanish capital, hence his change in attitude in recent days having previously suggested he would be happy to stay at White Hart Lane for another season.
And for all the talk of player power, Tottenham have power and a buffer of their own with three years remaining on the contract Bale signed only last summer.
While Bale is unlikely to kick up a fuss - and suggestions that he exaggerated a glute muscle injury during the Asia Trophy have been fiercely denied - there is a massive danger in keeping an unhappy player.
Tottenham are banking on the 24-year-old’s relationship with Villas-Boas, his settled family life and unassuming nature and do not expect the attacker to cause a fuss in the same manner as Modric or Dimitar Berbatov when they forced big-money transfers.
Few could blame Bale for wanting to pursue his ‘dream’ of playing for Real Madrid, where he believes he can fulfill his potential and finish his career with a trophy haul worthy of one of the finest players on the planet.
After six years in north London, he feels the time is right to move on, having won both the PFA and FWA player of the year awards as Spurs failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.
And for Tottenham, a bid approaching £90m - smashing the world record £80m Real paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 - might just be too much to turn down for a club looking to finance the construction of a £400m stadium development.
Villas-Boas is also a big fan of Real left-back Fabio Coentrao, who along with Angel Di Maria has been suggested as a potential makeweight in any deal for Bale.
Tottenham sources insist the days domestic rivals such as Manchester United, as they did with Berbatov in 2008, could skim super stars from their grasp are ‘long gone’ - and Bale would only ever be sold overseas, in the same manner that Modric was denied a transfer to Chelsea before joining Real Madrid.
That is, of course, if Levy caves at all.
At the moment, the Tottenham chairman is focused on trying to agree a new contract with Bale worth more than £150,000-a-week to keep him at the club for at least another year – an offer that Bale’s representatives have little interest in discussing with the player's heart set on a move to Real.
It is a situation that threatens to turn ugly as the goodwill between Bale and his representatives and the Tottenham hierarchy dissipates.
This is a battle Levy has taken on with his players before - and won. But there is now no perfect scenario for any party and Bale seems certain to end up in Real Madrid colours.
What is still not clear, with just over a month until the the close of the window, is whether that will be this summer, or whether the Welsh flyer will be made to wait another year.
- Villas-Boas tells Real Madrid to forget about signing Bale
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- Tottenham willing to sell Bale to Real Madrid for £80m plus Modric
- Bale considering move to Man Utd despite Tottenham's refusal
- Bale to stay on at Tottenham after Real Madrid admits defeat