TOTTENHAM manager Andre Villas-Boas has dropped his insistence that star forward Gareth Bale will be kept at the club next season following a world record bid from Real Madrid.
Spurs are believed to have rebuffed an offer of €100m (£86m) from Real for the Welshman, a deal that would outstrip the Spanish club’s purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo as the most expensive of all time.
The north Londoners are understood to want a player in exchange, with Argentina winger Angel di Maria mooted, or a cash bid of €120m (£104m) in order to part with the 24-year-old.
Bale is thought keen to join the nine-time European Cup winners and is expected to hold talks with Tottenham chiefs soon after the squad arrive home from a pre-season trip to Hong Kong today.
Villas-Boas had long been intransigent in his belief that Bale would not be sold this summer but appeared to change tack when questioned following a 6-0 friendly win over South China on Saturday, in which Bale did not play.
“I don’t want to comment on anything like that,” the Portuguese said of Real’s interest. Asked specifically whether Bale had requested to leave, he replied: “I cannot speak about this.”
Villas-Boas has already signed £18m Brazil midfielder Paulinho and £7m Belgium winger Nacer Chadli and is expected to complete a £26m deal for Valencia forward Robert Soldado this week.
Soldado, 28, was a member of the Spain squad that finished runners-up in this summer’s Confederations Cup in Brazil. He scored once, against Uruguay, in two games.
Bale, who was voted both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year by fellow professionals last season, is Real’s main summer target but, according to Spanish media, they are unwilling to pay £104m.
The former Southampton left-back, who has blossomed the further forward he has been deployed at Spurs, scored 31 goals for club and country last season.
He missed Saturday’s win with a muscle strain but is expected to report for training on Wednesday and is in contention for Saturday’s friendly at Monaco.
Top 10 costliest transfers in history
£80m: Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd-Real Madrid
£57m*: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Inter-Barcelona
£56m: Kaka, AC Milan-Real Madrid
£55m: Edinson Cavani, Napoli-PSG
£51m: Radamel Falcao, At Madrid-Monaco
£50m: Fernando Torres, Liverpool-Chelsea
£49m: Neymar, Santos-Barcelona
£47m: Carlos Tevez, Man Utd-Man City
£46m: Zinedine Zidane, Juventus-Real Madrid
£38m: James Rodriguez, Porto-Monaco
*Included Samuel Eto’o in part-exchange