English Premiership

Gareth Bale under scrutiny

2013-07-31 12:12
Gareth Bale (Getty)

London - Gareth Bale will report for training with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, amid mounting rumours about a lucrative move to Real Madrid in a possible world record transfer deal.

The north London club have faced persistent questions about their star winger, who was voted player of the year and young player of the year last season by his English Premier League peers after scoring 26 goals.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said during the club's pre-season visit to Hong Kong last week that they were in talks with the highly rated Wales international about a new contract.

He said he was optimistic of reaching agreement on a deal but fuelled speculation that the 24-year-old would leave the club after saying that there was currently no agreement.

Since then, the British and Spanish media have gone into overdrive, with Bale reportedly being given a price tag upwards of the record 80 million ($122 million, 92 million euros) Real paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

The Guardian said Real had indicated they were willing to pay a world record 100 million for Bale while Spanish sports daily Marca has claimed that Spurs have demanded a fee of 125 million for the player.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has also been reported as having set up a meeting with Real president Florentino Perez in Miami next week, where the Spanish club are due to play in a pre-season tournament, to broker a deal.

Bale's family were even said to have met Levy earlier this week to persuade him to allow the player to go, even though he has reportedly not submitted a formal transfer request.

The Daily Mirror claimed Levy was holding out for the best price for Bale and would be prepared to bring back Luka Modric, who left White Hart Lane for the Bernabeu last year in a similarly drawn-out transfer saga.

France legend and former Real player Zinedine Zidane, currently an ambassador for the Spanish capital club, was reported as saying: "If he (Bale) 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's understandable that Gareth doesn't want to miss out on it."

Real and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas added that Bale would be welcomed as he was "one of the top three or four players in Europe".

As such, Spurs' return to training on Wednesday was being closely watched, with Bale's appearance - or non-appearance - likely to spark further speculation about his immediate future.

A number of newspapers said without quoting sources that the winger would join the first-team squad but was unlikely to train because of a muscle injury that ruled him out of the club's two games in Hong Kong.

Tottenham play a friendly against newly promoted French Ligue 1 side Monaco in the prinicipality on Saturday, although it is unclear whether Bale will feature.

Bale, who was born in Cardiff, joined Tottenham from Southampton in 2007 and signed a new four-year contract in June last year.


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