The odds are stacking up that Tottenham Hotspur’s 24-year old golden boy Gareth Bale is about to join Real Madrid. It seems just a question of time until Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, a notoriously tough negotiator, will accept the inevitable and succumb to Madrid’s world record transfer bid for the Welsh wizard.
Bale undoubedly has the football world at his magical feet. Since former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp’s inspired decision in 2010 to develop him from a highly promising left-back to an attacking winger/midfielder, he has set football alight.
He has experienced a rapid rise in prominence after scoring some of the most memorable goals in the English Premiership in recent seasons. He is now rightly coveted as one of the best players in European and world football.
Last season Bale was prolific for Tottenham, scoring 26 goals in all competitions. He received numerous individual awards, including PFA Player and Young Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year.
It will surely be only a question of time before Bale’s name is mentioned alongside elite stars such as Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta and Xavi.
But, importantly, in his heart Bale knows that to achieve this he needs to be performing at the highest level. Spurs may yet become a big club in Europe, but they face stiff competition again this season to finish high enough in the Premiership to qualify for a Champions League place.
Last week, Spanish sports paper Marca, considered by many to be the mouthpiece for those in the know at Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid, dropped a bombshell. It revealed that Bale had already informed Spurs chairman Levy of his wish to join Madrid, the club he supported as a boy.
Marca reported that negotiations had been conducted between Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, and Madrid president Florentino Pérez and director general José Angel Sánchez in Madrid on 25 June. At the meeting a six-year deal was discussed which included details such as Bale being allocated his favourite number 11 shirt. During the meeting Barnett allegedly informed Real president Pérez:
“Have no doubts: Gareth has wanted to play for Madrid since he was a kid.”
This was no doubt the news Pérez had longed to hear. For Pérez is reported to have been so impressed by Bale’s brilliance at Tottenham and is so desperate to sign him, he is prepared to break the world transfer record to get his man.
On 23 July, Marca reporter Carlos Carpio stated that, although Real Madrid expected negotiations with Levy to be difficult, they had been given encouragement:
“Daniel Levy is a ruthless negotiator who skilfully deals with whatever he is faced with. When Gareth Bale told him last week that he wanted to join Real Madrid and that his decision was irrevocable, he suddenly became aware of the crisis he was facing. Levy has told those around him that he will only sell his prize jewel for a record English transfer fee. Until now, that is the €94m paid by Florentino in 2009 for Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Prior to this news, many of us didn’t fully believe the Madrid rumours. But now we have learned that Bale himself is determined to force through the transfer to enable him to realise his ambition to play in the Champions League which, of course, he is unable to do with Tottenham. At Real, one of the biggest clubs in the world, Bale knows he has a golden opportunity to play amongst ‘galacticos’ like Cristiano Ronaldo and a real prospect of winning trophies.
But Spurs chairman Levy seems determined to make it difficult for both Pérez and Bale, just as he did with Real last summer during Luka Modric’s long-running transfer saga. Writing in The Observer (27 July 2013), David Hytner reports that Bale has become distraught that Levy is standing in the way of what he sees as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Levy rejected Madrid’s offer of £81m last week and has reportedly taken a similar stance in response to their improved £86.3m (€100m) offer.
Despite this, Marca reporters Serrano and Cerezo (27 July 2013), stated that Real have known for some time that the cost the transfer would be in the region of €100m and with a deal so close, the club has no intention of breaking off negotiations for the sake of €4-€5m:
“In Levy’s opinion, although Gareth Bale’s move to Real Madrid is inevitable, the negotiations have become a matter of principle. If Real tables a bid of over €96m, the amount it paid in 2009 for Cristiano Ronaldo, Tottenham would sell its star.”
This all makes last week’s repeated assertions by Tottenham manager Andre Villas Boas (AVB) about Bale staying at the club hard to believe. AVB’s decision in recent days to refuse to comment further is probably wise. Maybe he has begun to accept the inevitability of losing his star player.
Bale’s recent injury has forced him to miss several games including last weeks Asia Trophy matches in Hong Kong against Sunderland and South China. AVB hopes that Bale will be fit to play in Tottenham’s next friendly against Monaco at the Stade Louis II on Saturday. This is looking increasingly unlikely for two key reasons. Firstly, if reports are true, Bale is not in the right frame of mind to play in that game and, secondly, negotiations between Pérez and Levy may have already been concluded in what would become a new world record transfer fee of a staggering £85-86m.
Bale’s inevitable transfer from White Hart Lane to the Santiago Bernabeu may be just days away. Next season, fans of Tottenham Hotspur and of English Premiership football will sorely miss the brilliance of Gareth Bale, a player with a rare talent who has illuminated the game on so many occasions in recent seasons.
The Premiership’s great loss will undoubtedly be La Liga’s huge gain.