- Premier League
Real Madrid ready to bid £85m for Bale
Real Madrid are set to finally launch a long-anticipated £85 million move for Tottenham's Gareth Bale, according to new reports emanating from Spain.
Spanish newspaper El Confidencial reported on Tuesday that the Spanish side, now managed by Carlo Ancelotti, are finally ready to step up their pursuit of the Wales international - despite his repeated assertions that he is willing to stay with Spurs for at least another season.
Marca claimed that Bale has agreed a six-year deal with Madrid, having told Spurs chairman Daniel Levy that he wants to quit the club for Spain.
However, Tottenham have always been confident of keeping Bale - with Andre Villas-Boas reiterating that stance on Tuesday at a press conference in Hong Kong.
"I want to repeat what I was telling you last season and what I was telling you from the beginning of pre-season so I cannot extend myself," Villas-Boas said, when asked about Bale's future.
"He is a player that we are willing to continue to have, he's a Tottenham player, he's one of the most fantastic players in the world at the moment and we are counting on him for the future."
Nevertheless, Marca remain adamant Bale wants to make the move, reporting on a meeting between Bale's agent and the Real hierarchy. The paper claims the player's agent, Jonathan Barnett, produced a photograph of a 10-year-old Bale in a Real Madrid shirt, telling Real president Florentino Perez: "Have no doubts - Gareth has wanted to play for Madrid since he was a kid."
- Cristiano Ronaldo £80m (Man Utd to Real, 2009)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic £59m* (Inter to Barcelona, 2009)
Kaka £56m (AC Milan to Real, 2009)
Edinson Cavani £55m (Napoli to PSG, 2013)
Luis Figo £52m (Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000)
*Included part exchange with Samuel Eto'o
Real have previously admitted their admiration for Bale - who scored 21 goals in 34 Premier League games last season - but have been reluctant to discuss any transfer in detail in the press, citing their good relationship with Tottenham as the reason.
The two clubs have previously done business for midfielder Luka Modric, with the Croatian's transfer to Madrid greeted by Spurs announcing that they had entered a "partnership agreement" with the Liga club.
However, last month Perez acknowledged that the club would be willing to spend a vast sum to bring in a player of the quality and profile of Bale.
"For those players and investments that generate and produce income, you can give everything in life," Perez told Marca. "But we don't speak of Bale so much because he plays at a friendly club to us and they will be annoyed if we speak. I know their chairman well and he doesn't like these things."
El Confidencial claims that Real's renewed interest has been sparked by suggestions Manchester United are ready to lodge their own bid for Bale.