THE transfer window’s longest-running saga finally ended last night when Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee of 100 million euros (£83.5 million).
To the relief of almost everyone involved, Spurs, Real Madrid, the player and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy issued statements saying the deal for the Wales international was done, with just the formality of a medical in Madrid to come today, transfer deadline day.
The fee eclipses the previous record of 94m euros that Real paid for Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009, and for that money the Spanish aristocrats are buying an outstanding young player who won games for Spurs almost single-handedly last season.
It also confirms yet again that when Real target a player they normally sign him, even if the other club are reluctant to sell, as Spurs steadfastly were.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was the first to announce that Bale, 24, was leaving when he spoke to reporters after his team’s 1-0 Premier League
defeat in the north London derby by arch-rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Bale has not played in any of Spurs’ five Premier League or Europa League matches this season due to what was described as an ankle injury. He last played for the club in an early pre-season friendly, scoring in a 1-1 draw at Swindon Town in July.
“He is an absolutely wonderful player. He has left us with great memories from last season which every Tottenham fan cherishes. He has moved on and we have moved on as well,”
Bale will be hard to replace and, in a statement issued on the Spurs website, he said the club had helped make him the player he was today and it would always remain in his heart.
“I have had six very happy years at Tottenham but it’s the right time to say goodbye. We’ve had some special times together over the years and I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said. “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 added he was not sure there was ever a good time to leave a club where he felt settled and was playing the best football of his career.
“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,” 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.”
Real Madrid confirmed the powerful-running Bale had signed a six-year deal and would have a medical today before being presented to the media.
Bale, who scored 21 Premier League goals for Spurs last season, was named England’s Footballer of the Year by football writers and the Player of the Year by his peers.