Tottenham Hotspur are in talks to re-sign Wales forward Gareth Bale from Real Madrid, and are closing in on a deal for his team-mate Sergio Reguilón.
Bale (31) left Spurs to join Real for a then record £85 million in 2013, and has since scored more than 100 goals and won four Champions League titles.
“Gareth still loves Spurs,” his agent Jonathan Barnett told BBC Sport Wales this week. “It’s where he wants to be.”
Both Bale and left-back Reguilón had been linked with Manchester United.
Spain international Reguilón (23) came through the youth set-up at Real and made his first-team debut in October 2018.
United spoke to Real about him, but were put off by the Spanish giants’ insistence on a buyback clause.
That has allowed Tottenham to step in, and the expectation is that he will now join José Mourinho’s squad.
Where Bale is concerned, a loan looks most likely at the moment, though a permanent transfer has not been ruled out, with Real keen to recover costs as they look to offload their highest earner.
Bale’s salary is perhaps the biggest hurdle for Spurs to overcome – he still has two years left on a contract that is thought to be worth about £600 000 a week.
Spurs chairperson Daniel Levy is working through the detail of the deal and how to make it work. Indications are that Real would be willing to pay a portion of Bale’s salary, but, even then, he would be getting more than England and Tottenham captain Harry Kane.
Levy has previously spoken of the massive financial impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Spurs, who have to pay for their £1 billion stadium, and at one point put non-playing staff on furlough, before reversing that decision two weeks later.
That has to be balanced against the enormous commercial potential of re-signing Bale.
United have long been linked with the Welshman, and he had been seen as a potential target should they fail to sign England international Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
Tottenham, however, have an emotional pull for a player they signed as a 17-year-old from Southampton and helped develop into one of the world’s best.
Bale was hugely successful in his first few seasons at Real, scoring in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals, as well as the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
But his star has faded over the past couple of years after a run of injuries, indifferent form and a fractious relationship with manager Zinedine Zidane.
Bale started just one match when the 2019/20 LaLiga season resumed, playing a mere 100 minutes as Real clinched a first title since 2017, and was conspicuously on the fringes of the team’s celebrations.
Former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who managed Bale between 2008 and 2012, said he would bring “that little bit of magic” to Mourinho’s side.
“It would be a fantastic signing for the club,” he told BBC Radio Wales.
“It would be great for Gareth to get back playing again. He’s such a talent; such a great player. It’s a waste to see him not playing.
“He could just turn Tottenham’s season around – he’s that good a player. They certainly need something. They’ve been quite average in the past six months or so at the end of last season, and they were beaten on Sunday by Everton.” – BBC Sport