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Gareth Bale closing in on Real Madrid move

ESPN staff
August 22, 2013
Raul back Bale's move to Madrid

Gareth Bale is closing in on a move to Real Madrid, with some reports suggesting the Tottenham man may complete his transfer in the next few days.

Madrid have been pursuing Bale throughout the summer, and the BBC claims the two clubs are in "advanced talks" over a deal, although an agreement has yet to be reached.

Spurs' director of football Franco Baldini is in the Spanish capital to thrash out a deal, and is reported to be attempting to include Fabio Coentrao as part of the transfer which would see Bale leave White Hart Lane.

Baldini has already overseen a number of new signings arriving at Tottenham this summer, with the club believed to have agreed a deal in principle for the sale of Bale a fortnight ago.

And it is now reported that the two parties are at the advanced stage of negotiations regarding an agreement which would see Bale move for a world-record transfer fee of £85 million, which would surpass the £80m Madrid paid to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

Willian undertook a medical at the club on Wednesday ahead of a club record transfer, while Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and Etienee Capoue have all been added to Andre Villas-Boas' squad.

Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez meanwhile believes all associated with his former side will be "delighted" if they capture the signing of Bale, and feels he is the next best player behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bale's potential move was covered in the Madrid-based press, but most prominently because reporters had asked Raul for his thoughts on it during Wednesday afternoon's press conference to promote an exhibition game.

"Bale is a player who can make the difference, he has done that in recent seasons," Raul said. "Behind Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Leo] Messi he is the player pushing up the most. It seems Madrid want him and will make a big effort to get him. If it happens everyone at the club will be delighted."

Asked if he thought Tottenham were overvaluing Bale, Raul was again characteristically diplomatic.

"You do not know," he said. "It has to do with performances. Cristiano's [fee] seemed a lot, and now it looks small beside what he has done. The market is what it is. If they reach an agreement the price will be 'X', and then we will see if it was worth it. Other times big figures were paid and the performance did not come. You have to wait to see if it happens and then his performance."

Elsewhere Marca waited until page 18 [it had been page 20 the morning before] for a story without any attributed quotes which claimed that both the Madrid and Spurs dressing rooms expected the transfer to go through before the end of August, but that Bale himself was getting worried by the length of time it was taking. Coentrao's £3.4m-a-year salary demands were suggested as a possible sticking point.

Many observers in both London and Madrid had assumed that Tottenham's busy recent few days, with deals for both Anzhi Makhachkala creator Willian and Roma schemer Erik Lamela being put in place, was proof the Premier League club was already spending the money it would receive from Madrid for Bale.

But Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters on Wednesday evening, while travelling ahead of his side's Europa League play-off first leg at Dinamo Tbilisi, said that it was "not true" that any deal had been agreed yet with Madrid.

"Ideally, we want to keep everyone to make us stronger - that is the ultimate objective of the club," Villas-Boas said. "In the end, anything can happen. We are dragging ourselves into the last weeks of transfer activity, and it can become very, very frantic.''

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