Bale to tell Tottenham he wants Real Madrid move

By Greg Stobart

Gareth Bale is ready to tell Tottenham he wants to join Real Madrid next summer if the Spanish giants meet the €62 million asking price, has learned.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has made Bale his top transfer target and he is ready to go head-to-head with rivals Barcelona for the Welsh winger’s signature in a deal that would shatter the transfer record for a British player.

Both clubs have already made steps in their pursuit of Bale with informal enquiries to Spurs and the player’s representatives – and Madrid are understood to be leading the race to land the 23-year-old as he prepares to tell the Londoners he wants to leave.

Bale signed a four-year contract in June but feels next season will be the right time to join a traditional European powerhouse where he can play regularly in the Champions League and reach his full potential.

Spurs have made a shaky start to the season under Andre Villas-Boas – they sit eighth in the Premier League – and would need to finish in the top four to have any chance of keeping Bale.

The former Southampton man has made little secret of his interest in playing abroad in the future and Spurs would be far more willing to sell to Real – with whom they have a partnership agreement – than a Premier League rival.

Luka Modric swapped north London for the Santiago Bernabeu during the summer in a deal worth over €35m, but it is understood no extensive discussions were held over a future move for Bale and there is certainly no agreement – informal or otherwise – for Madrid to have first option on the player.

The asking price is likely to be a sticking point, particularly in light of the months of haggling between the clubs before Modric eventually completed his switch to the nine-time European champions.

Tottenham have viewed Bale as a player worth over €60m ever since he joined the elite of A-list players in his astonishing Champions League performances home and away against Italian giants Inter in the autumn of 2010.

Barcelona are highly unlikely to enter a bidding war for a player who cost Spurs £5m (€6m) in 2007 and Real have the commercial and financial might to tempt Tottenham in to striking an agreement.

Manchester City have also been tracking Bale for some time but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would quote an eye-watering £60m (€74m) asking price to a rival Premier League club.

Asked earlier this year about the prospect of one day playing for Real or Barca, Bale was diplomatic but made no attempt to hide his desire to play in La Liga.

He said: “If you said to any young player that you could play for Barcelona or Real would they turn it down? Probably not.

“If a bid was accepted you would obviously have to seriously consider it.”

Follow Greg Stobart on

'One says, the other thinks' – Cruyff on Messi and Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or hopes

Football legend Johan Cruyff has spoken out on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s bids to win the Ballon d’Or, and discussed Pep Guardiola as well as his successor at Barcelona, Tito Vilanova.

Opinions are divided as to who should be crowned the world’s best player for 2012, and the Dutch legend tossed his hat into the ring and offered his views during the presentation of his new book Football. My Philosophy.

“One says, the other thinks. Everyone wants a trophy and will be very proud to have it. Those types of awards are subjective, it’s what, in general, the people like.

“Messi is very small and what he does with his feet is the same as what a child does and it’s magnificent. The best thing to do with Messi is to put him forward, not to the side.

“If you go on the attack and have a very attacking team, space is very limited. High quality players move like Messi does and like Romario did.”

The 65-year-old also spoke about the reasons behind Barcelona’s achievements in recent campaigns.

“The number of players in the squad and its function is important. The important thing is that each player in the Barcelona team has quality. If you see [David] Villa, [Christian] Tello or Pedro [Rodriguez] there is competition and that can yield more.

“Barcelona are creating many goals and that’s because everyone is doing their role and so it doesn’t matter who scores. Now almost everyone is scoring goals.”

The eight-time Eredivisie winner also spoke about former Barca coach Pep Guardiola and his successor Tito Vilanova.

“Guardiola has been a quality tactician. There is a little difference between Pep and Tito, though,” he added. “Tito has a team that has been firing, but he faces the difficulty of surpassing someone who was very good.

“He’ll have to face it, so that the day doesn’t come where things aren’t going so well. The tactician’s role is not to teach football to Messi, because Messi is a better player than Tito [was].

“What’s important is that he is happy, like everyone else, and Tito is doing that very well.

“To be a good coach you must have been a good player. You have many things [as a coach] that are learned as a player – to press and keep up the team-work on the field for example.”

I am not friends with Ronaldo outside of football, says Xabi Alonso

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has conceded that he shares no personal friendship with Cristiano Ronaldo but that there is a mutual respect between the two.

Since the start of the season, there has been much speculation surrounding relations within the Madrid camp after Ronaldo went public with his ‘sadness’ at the club.

The former Liverpool midfielder is now the latest to reveal the nature of his relationship with the ex-Manchester United star and he admits that the pair’s friendship does not extend off the pitch.

“Between him and me there is appreciation and professional respect,” he told ETB.

“Clearly not everyone in the locker room are friends of mine and outside there is almost no relationship between us. But inside the dressing room, we get along. Cristiano is no diva.”

However, Alonso stressed the importance of the Portugal captain to Real Madrid – and he had nothing but kind words for his coach, Jose Mourinho.

“He (Ronaldo) is a very ambitious person and has strong self-belief. He is an important player for the team,” the Spaniard continued.

“I am always learning from Mourinho. He is very demanding and takes care of all the details.

“People think they know him, but they only see his outside image. I know him inside the dressing room, and he’s very different.”

Del Bosque: Atletico have a real chance of beating Real Madrid

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque says Atletico Madrid could defeat Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid when the two sides clash on December 1.

Los Blancos have won their last six domestic games, but remain five points behind their fierce city rivals in La Liga.

“[Atletico] are playing like a team and of course I think they have a real chance of winning at the Bernabeu,” the 61-year-old told reporters.

“Atletico’s role makes our league more exciting. Obviously we have two huge clubs, Madrid and Barcelona, but ‘Atleti’ is there in the mix.

“For now we have to applaud everything they’ve done in recent years, not just their European titles, but also their performances in the league. We can’t possibly know if they can keep it up until the end, but they’re up there for now.

“We can only talk about what has happened, because it’s difficult in football to talk about what is going to happen. But for now, Atletico Madrid’s performances are worthy of praise,” he added.

The former Spain international was speaking at the opening of a sports facility for mentally disabled people in Madrid, which is to be named after him.

Mourinho: I've have seen worse refereeing

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has refused to openly complain of mistreatment of his team by official Gianluca Rocchi after Alvaro Arbeloa’s dismissal against Manchester City in the Champions League.

Mourinho expressed his disappointment at the sending-off of the former Liverpool player and also appeared unhappy with the decision to give five minutes of injury time at the end of the game, but insisted that he has seen worse during his career.

“In Italy [during a Milan derby which Mourinho’s Inter won 2-0] that referee left us with nine players and a penalty that shouldn’t have been,” the 49-year-old was quoted as saying by Marca.

“I lost a semi-final with a goal that shouldn’t have been because the ball didn’t cross the line.

“Another two I lost on penalties. I’ve had much worse moments than this. I was left with ten players in Barcelona for an hour, and this time it was just twenty minutes,” he added sarcastically.

Los Blancos will take on Ajax at the Bernabeu in their final group game of the Champions League on December 4, with qualification already secured.