Bale wants chance to speak with Madrid
Frustrated winger ready to choose move of lifetime over any salary increase from Spurs
Gareth Bale's future at Tottenham Hotspur appears increasingly uncertain after it emerged he had told chairman Daniel Levy he would be keen to speak to Real Madrid.
Bale (below) has been targeted by the Spanish giants for a world-record transfer worth potentially £85m and has moved to force the issue by informing Spurs that he is ready to leave, despite Levy's insistence that he will not be sold at any price.
Levy is believed to have returned to his apartment in Miami after briefly flying back to England last weekend and although Spurs are set to smash their transfer record for the second time this summer by clinching a £26m deal for Valencia forward Roberto Soldado, it seems even more likely that Bale is heading for the exit after six years at White Hart Lane.
Spurs have maintained consistent dialogue with Bale's representatives over the past 48 hours, with more talks expected today, and are even prepared to reopen contract negotiations.
But it is understood the club have been told the winger will not sign an extension regardless of the salary on offer. This is a purely footballing decision for Bale, who is determined to test himself at a higher level in the Champions League, and Levy must now weigh up whether to risk retaining a disillusioned player or to accept a bid from Madrid that would ensure the Wales international becomes the most expensive player in history.
While the 24-year-old has made it clear to Spurs that he wants to leave, he has no intention of submitting a transfer request and remains hopeful that Levy will allow him to move.
He recognises that Spurs have been good for his career but regards a move to Madrid as the chance of a lifetime and at a price that is acceptable to a club who signed him from Southampton for an initial £5m in 2007.
Manchester United continue to monitor developments, with manager David Moyes anxious to make one marquee signing this summer, but Bale has set his sights on Madrid and would favour the Bernabeu over Old Trafford.
Carlo Ancelotti, the new Real Madrid manager, is growing increasingly confident that a deal will be done and club president Florentino Perez is ready to pay whatever it takes to sign Bale, regardless of Levy's resistance.
A second bid is expected this week, even though Spurs claim to have a letter from Madrid insisting they would not make any offer for Bale this summer.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Spurs manager, knows that the club are facing a losing battle to retain their outstanding asset but still expects Bale to attend training tomorrow ahead of the friendly against Monaco this weekend.
Bale missed both of Tottenham's games in the Asia Cup with a muscle injury.
Michael Owen, who moved to Madrid from Liverpool in 2004, has warned Bale that adjusting to life in Spain is not easy.
He said: "The changes are huge. I underestimated that when I went to Real Madrid, certainly from a family point of view. From a football point of view, I think Bale would do particularly well.
"But I think for any player going from these shores to Spain, it is a lot different to how you first imagine it.
"Off the pitch, it's very difficult. The Spanish culture is a very easy way of life; there's a slow pace to it."
Although Villas-Boas' attempts to persuade Bale to stay in London appear forlorn, the Spurs manager is moving closer to the signing of Soldado, finally ending his summer search for a proven international forward.
Spurs made an improved offer for Soldado to Valencia over the weekend, triggering a release clause, and could have him signed before the friendly against Claudio Ranieri's team. Valencia had offered him to Spurs for considerably less in January but Levy has paid almost £10m more to take him to the capital.
The Spain international's arrival will mean Spurs have broken their transfer record twice in less than two months, following the £17m capture of Paulinho from Corinthians. Spurs have also signed Nacer Chadli from FC Twente for around £7m.
However, it is the Bale saga that is seriously threatening to damage Spurs' preparations ahead of the new Premier League season, with further developments expected in the next two days. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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