London - Real Madrid were given renewed hope in their pursuit of Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale on Tuesday when a Spurs director admitted they cannot hold onto him against his will.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said last week that his club were in talks with Tottenham over Bale's transfer but Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas says the former Southampton player is not for sale.
However, although club director Keith Mills says Spurs "very much want Bale to stay", he accepts that the London side cannot force the player to remain at White Hart Lane against his wishes.
"If a player is desperate to leave, it's very difficult to force him to stay," Mills told London's Evening Standard newspaper.
"We've seen it in other clubs. Even if he has a contract, you can't force somebody to play for you."
Bale, 24, reported for training on Tuesday morning, despite reports in the Spanish media that he would go on strike in a bid to force through a move to the Spanish capital.
The Wales international was driven into Spurs' training complex in Enfield, north London at around 10:30 am local time (11:30 SA time).
Bale missed Spurs' 5-2 friendly loss to Monaco at the weekend due to a foot problem and has not played for the club since a 1-1 draw against Swindon Town on July 16.
He was unable to take part in the pre-season tour of Hong Kong because of a buttock injury.
Bale scored 26 goals for Spurs last season and was voted the Professional Football Association (PFA) Player of the Year, the PFA Young Player of the Year and the Football Writers' Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year.