Tottenham Hotspur find themselves at loggerheads today with their star player Gareth Bale and his advisers, who have their heart set on a move to Real Madrid and believe that the two clubs should reach an agreement over a deal for the Wales international.
The terms of the relationship between Bale and his club have shifted dramatically in the last 48 hours with the player and his camp now unequivocal that he wishes to leave Spurs.
There are suggestions that Madrid already made an offer last week for the player, at a value of €100m (£86.3m), although that is thought to include the transfer of Angel di Maria and Fabio Coentrao in the deal.
There is scepticism in Spain as to whether Madrid could pay €100m in cash, certainly not without selling players first. It is rare for many modern transfers, especially those at the top of the market, to involve player exchanges, not least because those kind of deals are so hard to get an agreement on all sides.
It is understood to be Bale’s belief, although the player is yet to articulate this himself, that Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy should cash in on him this summer, with the potential for Madrid to pay more than the world record £80m that they spent on Cristiano Ronaldo in June 2009.
In his press conference following Tottenham’s second game in Hong Kong on Saturday, against South China, the Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas, would not clarify Bale’s future at the club. When asked whether the player himself had asked to leave, Villas-Boas said that he could not speak about the subject.
It goes without saying that Levy is not a chairman who reacts to demands being made of him and there is the potential for the relationship between club and player to become very messy indeed. Much will depend on how far Bale, a hitherto loyal club man, is prepared to push for the move and it is difficult to predict just how much a normally shy, reticent individual will react personally.
Until now, Levy’s position has been in private that he will not sell regardless of the size of the offer from Real. He was as good to his word in that respect when Chelsea put pressure on Spurs in the summer of 2011 to sell the midfielder Luka Modric; instead the Spurs chairman held out against his own player’s demands, selling him the following summer to Madrid.
Nevertheless, no two situations are the same. Levy may wish to consider what effect keeping Bale at the club would be likely to have on the value of the player and whether this may indeed be the optimum time to sell him. There were reservations about Modric’s form in his final season at the club and the added consideration that his value may have decreased in that last 12 months.
With so much undecided, and club and player on very different sides, what is clear is that Bale and his agent Jonathan Barnett will not be agreeing a new contract with the club any time soon. The player would have commanded a £150,000-a-week deal at the very least, easily the most Spurs have ever paid a player, but that is not on the agenda now.
For Levy, selling Bale would be one of most remarkable pieces of transfer trading in modern football. He bought Bale from the Championship six years ago, agreeing a £10m deal, with half paid up front, a figure that was subsequently reduced to around £7m in total when Southampton agreed to take less in return for an earlier payment than had been scheduled. With three years remaining on the player’s contract, the balance of power is nominally with the club.
The Real squad arrived in the United States on Sunday to play four friendly games, the first two on Thursday and Saturday and then the third yet to be scheduled on either 6 or 7 August in Miami. The suggestion is that Madrid president Florentino Perez is keen to meet Levy in Florida and do the deal for Bale there.
Real have gone to great measures to convince Bale to push for a move this summer. It has even been suggested that in a meeting last month between the club and the player’s representatives this season’s No 11 shirt with Bale’s name on it was presented. New coach Carlo Ancelotti has tweaked last season’s formation, moving Ronaldo into a more central position in several pre-season friendlies in anticipation of Bale taking his place on the lefthand side of Madrid’s attack.
Bale played against Swindon in Spurs’ friendly 13 days ago but since then has not featured at Colchester or in either of the Asia Trophy games in Hong Kong. A thigh injury has been cited. Tottenham’s next game is against Monaco at the Stade Louis II Stadium on Saturday with no guarantee that the player will figure then.
Real have sold Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli for £31m and they are keen to offload the likes of Di Maria and Coentrao. However, the club remain under investigation by the European Competition Commission over a land deal with Madrid council and are obliged, like every other team in Uefa competition, to abide by financial fair play regulations.
Meanwhile reports in Spain have suggested that Spurs have agreed to match the Valencia striker Roberto Soldado’s £26m release clause.