- The battle for Bale: Real Madrid may want him but United may now hold the key to signing the Tottenham superstar09:26 | 24/07/2013
According to those who know him, Gareth Bale remains a down-to-earth kind of footballer.
For example, when he plays for Wales in Cardiff, he still gets his mum Debbie to record the game so that he can go ‘home’ afterwards and watch it.
Success, they say, hasn’t changed him much. Even he, though, must have found his head swirling on Tuesday when the front page of Spanish sports paper Marca claimed — somewhat prematurely it appears — that he has agreed a six-year deal to join Real Madrid.
Bale, remember, wasn’t even a regular in the Tottenham team when Harry Redknapp arrived at White Hart Lane in 2008. Indeed, so unconvinced was Redknapp initially by the young left-back that he offered him to Manchester City as bait for Craig Bellamy.
Now, in the summer of 2013, Bale is one of Europe’s most sought-after footballers, coveted by Madrid and Manchester United, and destined, it seems, for the very highest level of the European game at some time in the next 12 months.
Spurs, of course, are trying to hang on for another season at least and who can blame them?
Without their most influential player, Andre Villas-Boas and his entertaining team will find themselves short of what is needed for a top-four finish.
With Bale still in harness, Tottenham still have a chance and no wonder Villas-Boas was talking in such belligerent fashion on Tuesday when asked in Hong Kong about the future of the 24-year-old.
‘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,’ said Villas-Boas.
‘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.’
It is easy to sympathise with Villas-Boas. Tottenham will sell Bale before long. It makes sense. The timing, though, is everything and it is clear that they will do what they can this summer to prevent him leaving, before September 1 heralds the closing of the summer trading window.
Interest from Real is genuine, as indeed it is from United. As it stands, an offer is most likely to come from Old Trafford.
It is hard to see Real testing Tottenham’s resistance while Cristiano Ronaldo remains at the Bernabeu and it is worth noting that Carlo Ancelotti also has another direct wide forward currently in his squad, Argentina international Angel di Maria.
Taking that into account, does Ancelotti need Bale? Not really. Not until Ronaldo leaves, at least, and when looked at from that angle it seems as though United may hold the key to all this.
As we know, United have flirted with the notion of a dramatic and sentimental return for Ronaldo. Some people in football insist it will still happen. As time moves on, however, it seems ever more difficult for United to pull off.
More possible is that the Barclays Premier League champions harden their interest in Bale himself.
Former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has long been a fan of the Welshman, having tried to bring him to Old Trafford before Spurs signed him from Southampton in 2007. Now that the baton has been passed to David Moyes at United, the admiration for Bale remains.
Moyes knows that Bale would bring an awful lot to his team but — as Sportsmail first reported in early June — United are reluctant to begin another period of painful sparring with their old adversary, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. Negotiations with Levy tend to be as painful and drawn out as pulling teeth and without any guarantee of a successful resolution.
United have experience — having bought Michael Carrick in 2006 and Dimitar Berbatov in 2008 — and it is this that makes them nervous.
Equally, though, the club’s owners the Glazers want a marquee signing this summer and the more other avenues begin to close off the more likely a serious attempt to get Bale out of Tottenham becomes.
Luka Modric has long been on United’s back-up list as they look for a creative midfielder, while Moyes has a week to decide whether to close in on Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, as the Belgian’s £22m buy-out clause expires on July 31.
Certainly, the longer Barcelona’s stubbornness over Cesc Fabregas goes on, the more likely it is that something will have to give. United need players and Moyes has already indicated publicly this week that he cannot wait forever.
United’s fanbase are also starting to get a little agitated. Moyes is aware of this and remains calm. When he looks across the landscape, though, he can see his rivals spending money, strengthening. If this doesn’t make him nervous yet then it soon will do.
Bale, for his part, is keen to better himself before long. Represented by the experienced agent Jonathan Barnett, he will get his move eventually and those of us who enjoy watching him play so much can only hope he remains in the Premier League.
There are too few of his ilk left. For once it’s all too easy to understand all the fuss.
According to Dailymail
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