Belfast Telegraph

Tottenham Hotspur: Give us £105m for Gareth Bale

By Pete Jenson

Spurs are ready to demand an astonishing £105m for Gareth Bale as new record signing Roberto Soldado admitted Andre Villas-Boas is facing a battle to prevent the Welshman from moving to Real Madrid.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is determined to maintain his hardball stance and is insisting that Madrid's initial £85m offer, believed to have been made last week, will not be enough to buy the winger.

Bale is expected to miss the friendly against Monaco this weekend with the muscle problem that has ruled him out for the last three games but Madrid are facing increasing resistance from Levy, who is understood to be intent on dictating the future of Spurs' prize asset. Alvaro Morata, the Spain U-21 international striker, could be used as a potential sweetener in the deal.

Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted for the first time that his club are in talks with Spurs for the 24-year-old but Levy is only prepared to accept a mammoth deal topping £100m.

Bale has moved to force the issue by informing both Levy and Villas-Boas that he wants a move to Madrid but his fears of a protracted saga are becoming a reality. However, such is Madrid president Florentino Perez's desire to complete a world-record deal that there have been strong suggestions in Spain that he will be prepared to pay whatever it takes to land Bale.

Despite Levy's aggressive positioning, Bale's departure appears increasingly inevitable but the impending club record £26m transfer of Soldado will at least end Villas-Boas' lengthy search for a proven international forward.

Meanwhile, next month it will be eight years since David Beckham landed a cross on the head of 20-year-old Real Madrid striker Roberto Soldado who, at the second attempt, nodded the ball past Olympiakos keeper Antonios Nikopolidis to score on his Champions League debut, It seemed that his future was made.

Tottenham's new striker had grown up watching Ronaldo score spectacular goals for Barcelona and Real Madrid and, after being spotted by then Real Madrid youth-team coach Vicente Del Bosque at regional boys side Don Bosco, he was signed aged 14 and made it to the first team.

But Madrid had little time for nurturing young talent and Soldado, like Alvaro Negredo and Juan Mata after him, was discarded. The long road back – culminating this summer in becoming Tottenham's record signing at £26m –speaks volumes for the character of a player who has taken the longest path to reach the top.

"I remember my dad telling me that Del Bosque had watched me the previous Saturday to make the final decision," he says.

The first year away from home was tough and when, aged 17, he left the players' residence to flat-share with a team-mate there were times when the bright lights of the capital were he could see.

"I was dedicating myself to anything but football, but my parents moved to Madrid and got me back on track," he says.

He made it to the first team; and then on to the end of that Beckham cross, but was eventually packed off by Madrid first to Osasuna and then to Getafe.

Getafe is just a half-hour drive from the Bernabeu but comfortably La Liga's least-populated and mournfully quiet stadium.

But he did well enough at Getafe to earn a move to Valencia where he bettered the scoring rate of his predecessor David Villa and put himself back in contention for a place in the Spain squad for Euro 2012. But it was Manchester City's new summer signing Alavaro Negredo who went instead.

As well as the 30 goals Soldado scored last season, Del Bosque also saw an improvement in his link-up play and started him in Spain's first Confederations Cup game against Uruguay where he played his part in their most impressive performance.

He is now ahead of Negredo in the international pecking order; and alongside him in the Premier League.

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