Tottenham Hotspur have finally agreed the world-record €100m (£86m) transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. An official announcement is due to be made as early as tomorrow.
The details of Bale's dream move to Real were thrashed out at a meeting in Madrid between the club's president Florentino Perez, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, Spurs technical director Franco Baldini and the player's representative Jonathan Barnett over the last few days.
Significantly, the agreement involves a straight cash deal with no players coming from Real to Spurs as had been earlier discussed when inquiries were made about striker Alvaro Morata and left-back Fabio Coentrao.
Bale (24) flew into Spain on Saturday awaiting the green light on the deal. He will travel to Madrid for a formal medical and to sign what is expected to be a six-year contract, believed to be worth £8.5m a year before tax, and could also be unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium tomorrow. A stage has already been erected on the eastern side of the 85,000-seat stadium alongside the directors' box.
Real play away to Granada tonight and are home to Athletic Bilbao next Sunday in what is now expected to be Bale's debut appearance. The fee beats the £80m record that Cristiano Ronaldo set when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 although it falls short of the €120m (£103m) that Spurs were at one time quoting to let Bale go.
Real have left the No 11 shirt vacant – and the Bale shirt has already apparently gone on sale in the club shop. Spurs, however, have driven a hard bargain in terms of the payment, having flatly rejected Real's terms to cover the fee over the six-year duration of the contract. Instead Spurs have insisted that there are just three staged payments – and have also offered Real the carrot of receiving a significant discount on the total fee if they meet those payments early. Such an offer is not unusual and is a tactic that has been used before by Levy.
Conversely should Real be slow in paying up they will be hit by punitive clauses which would lead to an increase in the overall fee.
There will be relief at Spurs that the deal is going through in advance of the September 2 deadline when the transfer window closes. It had been expected that Spurs would delay releasing Bale until they had secured replacements but there was always a will not to let this one go down to the wire.
Having missed out on Willian after the Brazilian attacking midfielder opted to move to Chelsea for £30m – with Chelsea also having reached an agreement in principle to also take striker Samuel Eto'o from the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala – Spurs are hopeful that they will sign Argentinian international winger Erik Lamela from Roma for around £26m.
It is hoped that Spurs will add another forward player, with Zenit St Petersburg's Hulk a possibility if a fee closer to £30m can be agreed – although that remains a problem – and they have also reached agreement to acquire the 23-year-old Romanian central defender Vlad Chiriches from Steaua Bucharest for around £8m.
Having offered a world-record fee for Bale, and with the significant game-changer that Bale himself pleaded for a move and indicated he was determined to leave, it then became an issue of agreeing the details.
Having initially negotiated solely on a cash price, Spurs decided that they want to explore the possibility of taking players from Real. The club reasoned that a pile of money in the bank was no good to them if they were going to weaken their squad. However, these talks broke down after Real's valuation on their players – also including winger Angel di Maria – was deemed too high.
Spurs then set about ensuring they secured players they wanted such as Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and, hopefully, Lamela, Chiriches and one other – to add to Paulinho.
Spurs are furious that they missed out on Willian with the Brazilian having already agreed terms. (© Daily Telegraph, London)