Gareth Bale is on the verge of becoming the most expensive player in football history with a 93 million pounds move to Real Madrid expected to be completed over the weekend.
Bale's future appears increasingly likely to be resolved after the Spanish club intensified negotiations to sign the Wales international after almost two months of talks.
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy has been locked in advanced discussions with Real for two days and a deal to take Bale to the Bernabeu is reaching a conclusion in what will be a straight cash agreement with no other players involved. Spurs had attempted to persuade Real to part with players, including left-back Fabio Coentrao, but that arrangement has proven too complicated. Real remain hopeful of announcing the signing before the home game against Atletico Madrid on Sunday in an attempt to maximise the global television audience and sources close to the deal are claiming today will be crucial.
Bale's expected move was delayed yesterday because of Real's friendly against Qatari side Al-Sadd, the new home of striker Raul, who is Real's all-time leading appearance holder and goalscorer, but talks are now expected to progress. The deal will shatter the world record of 80 million pounds for Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved from Manchester United in 2009, and will come as a huge relief to Bale amid fears early last week that his dream move could be off. Levy has met the Real president, Florentino Perez, twice this summer and made it clear that the deal would only be concluded on Spurs's terms.
Bale has repeatedly told the club and manager Andre Villas-Boas that he wanted to leave and has grown increasingly frustrated at the tactics and apparent intransigence of Levy during the whole protracted affair. However, there is little doubt that Levy, a businessman of such unbreakable resolve he could have been carved from granite, is on course to secure his greatest triumph since taking office in February 2001. After batting away the relentless advances of Real for most of the summer, even threatening to call off the deal on two occasions, his success in backing the Spanish club into a corner is undoubtedly a significant achievement. Levy has also proved that he has learnt from previous experiences, after his decision to sell Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United in the final hours of the 2008 summer transfer window inflicted serious damage on the season.
Despite infuriating Bale and the 24-year-old's camp with his stubborn approach, the deal appears close to completion more than a week before the window closes, enabling Villas-Boas to bring in further new recruits without having to resort to burning the midnight oil. Spurs have already spent more than pounds 60?million in the Premier League this summer, with further signings anticipated, and while replacing Bale will be an arduous task, maybe Villas-Boas's dreams of dominating English football and eventually winning the quadruple are not so far-fetched.