BARCELONA are ready to test Tottenham's resolve with a substantial summer bid for Gareth Bale.
Spurs have consistently stated that they will refuse to sell key players, and Bale has three years left on his contract at White Hart Lane.
However, Barcelona 's technical department, led by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, consider the 22-year-old Bale to be the perfect long-term replacement for Eric Abidal, who underwent a liver transplant last week.
The club's chief scout, Albert Valentin, checked out Bale's performance in the 3-1 win at Fulham last November, when he set up Aaron Lennon for Spurs' second goal.
Barcelona believe that Bale, who has scored 23 goals over the past two seasons, including a San Siro hat-trick against Inter in the Champions League 18 months ago, would also add more penetration to their side's attack.
The search to introduce attacking elan to Barca's flanks may become a particular priority this summer, with right-back Dani Alves' future at the Nou Camp uncertain.
With Alves facing a divorce that is set to cost him millions in alimony, there are hints the Brazilian will make himself available for transfer to generate a big payday.
The club envisage that in that event Barcelona would replace him with the more defensively minded Martin Montoya and seek to shift their attacking focus to the left flank, explaining the move for Bale, a player who has not been comfortable as an orthodox left-back.