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Sunday 19 November 2017

Bale's £85m Real deal turns bitter

Star fears Levy determined to block dream move

The saga over Gareth Bale's transfer to Real Madrid could turn acrimonious
The saga over Gareth Bale's transfer to Real Madrid could turn acrimonious

John Percy

Gareth Bale will report to Tottenham Hotspur's training ground today in turmoil as the prospect of a world record £85m transfer to Real Madrid threatens to become even more acrimonious.

Bale is growing increasingly frustrated at the hardline stance of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who the Wales international believes is determined to block his dream move to the Bernabeu, and fears the saga is in danger of running right to the end of the transfer window.

Real Madrid's £85m offer for Bale remains on the table and Levy is believed to be considering his next move at his property in Miami, but is refusing to back down from his insistence that the winger is not for sale, even at such a staggering price.

Bale will be present at Spurs' training centre in Enfield with the rest of the first-team squad today, but is unlikely to train and is expected to only report for treatment on the muscle injury that ruled him out of the club's two Asia Cup games in Hong Kong.

It is also uncertain that he will play against Monaco in a friendly this weekend but his state of mind is believed to be one of growing disappointment and anger that the club he has served for six years are adopting such a stubborn approach to his hopes of moving to La Liga.

Although Bale has made it clear to Levy that he wants to leave, there have been no public statements from the 24-year-old as he does not want to damage his relationship with Spurs beyond repair.

He is reluctant to force the issue further by handing in a written transfer request, though it promises to be an uneasy reunion with manager Andre Villas-Boas, who is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to persuade his prized asset to remain at White Hart Lane.

Real Madrid's pursuit is proving relentless and they identified Bale as a priority signing well before the end of last season, with billionaire president Florentino Perez happy to pay what will be a world record transfer fee.

The offer eclipses the £80m paid to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 and is understood to also contain the promise of a Madrid player, possibly either Fabio Coentrao or Angel Di Maria.

Madrid are currently in Florida on a pre-season tour of the United States and Perez – who has joined manager Carlo Ancelotti and the squad this week – may request a meeting with Levy in a bid to make a breakthrough on a deal.

Madrid have already experienced the tough negotiating of Levy before, when their pursuit of Luka Modric last year became a bitter and protracted affair. However, Modric was far more active in his attempts to push through a move on Spurs and missed the squad's flight to Los Angeles before handing in a transfer request.

The Spanish giants are anticipating another drawn out episode with Bale, though sporting director Zinedine Zidane further applied the pressure by insisting the move is the chance of a lifetime.

"It is not unusual when a player knows that Real Madrid are interested in them that they get excited," he said. "There is nothing more prestigious for a player to wear the white of Real Madrid.

"If he has expressed a desire to join Madrid then Tottenham should give him permission to speak with us. The chance to play for Real Madrid might only come around once in a player's lifetime – and it is understandable that Gareth doesn't want to miss out on it.

"This is modern football – you have to pay to get the best players in Europe. Last season Gareth was on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi. The best players can have not so great games – but change a game with a moment of brilliance. Those are the sort of players that win you Champions League and league titles.

"He is already one of the finest players in Europe and he has everything needed to become the best player in the world. It is a bit of a cliche but it is true you become a better player playing with better players."

Spurs kick off their campaign on August 18 against Crystal Palace – almost a fortnight before the transfer window closes – but Bale would ideally want the situation thrashed out well before then, though Levy is in no mood to soften his stance.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Bale, Spurs are pressing ahead with their £26m bid to sign Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, with negotiations believed to be ongoing.

Spurs want the transfer completed before the weekend but Soldado said last night: "I do not know what is going on at the moment. At the moment, I cannot say anything.

"We will wait to see what happens. When the right time comes, I will speak, as I always have done."

Cardiff City are preparing a substantial bid for defender Steven Caulker, but are expected to meet similar resistance from Levy. The England international is highly regarded by Villas-Boas and even a club record offer from Cardiff is unlikely to succeed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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