Gareth Bale became the most expensive player in football history ast night and immediately described his 100 million euros move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid as "a dream come true". After a month of intense negotiations, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy finally signed off on a straight cash deal with Madrid that surpasses the previous transfer record of 80 million pounds that was spent on -bringing Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu from Manchester United.
Bale's transfer was formally confirmed last night following Spurs' defeat against Arsenal in the north London derby, with the 24 year-old also releasing a statement detailing his reasoning for leaving. "I have had six very happy years at Tottenham, but it's the right time to say goodbye," Bale said.
"We've had some special times together over the years and I've loved every minute of it. I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date. I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say this is my dream come true."
Bale has spent six years at Tottenham after being signed from Southampton for pounds 6?million and, as well as offering his gratitude to the Spurs supporters, he also made a plea last night for understanding. "I would like to thank everyone at the club, the chairman, board, staff, coaches and players - and most of all the fantastic fans, who I hope will understand this amazing career opportunity," he said. "I am well aware that I would not be at the level I am today were it not for firstly Southampton and then Spurs standing by me during some of the tougher times and affording me the environment and support they have.
"Tottenham will always be in my heart and I'm sure that this season will be a successful one for them. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid." The Bale deal is likely to have a domino affect on the European transfer market, with Kaka expected to rejoin AC Milan and Arsenal hoping to make signings on Monday from Real Madrid. Southampton will also receive 2 million pounds as a result of the world-record Bale deal from the Fifa solidarity payment that relates to the development of players. They would have received around 10 million pounds had a sell-on clause not been subsequently bought out by Spurs.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, insisted last night that the club should not be anxious about embarking on the post-Bale era although a sense of unease was still descending on the club last night after a potentially serious injury to one of his new signings, Etienne Capoue.
There is no doubt that Spurs could have used Bale's talents at the Emirates Stadium yesterday but Villas-Boas says there should be no sense of trepidation in moving on without him. "The player's a wonderful player, he's agreed to join Real Madrid, so we wish him all the best," Villas-Boas said. "He's left us with great memories from last season, which I think every Tottenham fan cherishes, but he has moved on and we move on as well. "We have to move forward. Tottenham has made some great reinvestments with the money that will come from Gareth Bale into the team, which is wonderful."
One player who Spurs have already spent some of those funds on is Capoue, the French international midfielder, who was stretchered off in apparent agony after suffering injury late in yesterday's game. His ankle gave way as he challenged for the ball with Santi Cazorla but Villas-Boas is fearing more serious damage to his leg. "I don't have the complete report," Villas-Boas said.
"It doesn't look very good at the moment. It's the fibula. It's a bit more concerning, we just have to wait." Having already spent more than 100 million pounds in the current transfer window, Villas-Boas confirmed that the club would be making no further purchases on deadline day. However, he did suggest that some players, possibly including Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Emmanuel Adebayor, could be departing White Hart Lane.
"We might outline a couple of loans to other clubs," said Villas-Boas, who must also decide whether to let Jermain Defoe move to QPR. Defeat to Arsenal ended Tottenham's 100 per cent start to the Premier League campaign, although -Villas-Boas felt they deserved something from the game.
"The fairest result would be a draw, bearing in mind what we did in the second half. In the first half, Arsenal were very strong. It was difficult for us to control their pace. As soon as we started to control the game we started creating. The second half was all ours."