Tottenham Hotspur director Sir Keith Mills has admitted the club are almost powerless to keep Gareth Bale if he wants to move to Real Madrid, even though he signed a new four-year contract only last summer.
Real Madrid have confirmed they are in talks with Tottenham over Bale and a potential world record transfer, with Spurs said to be demanding in excess of £80 million.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has said that Bale is not for sale, but Spurs recognise any attempts to keep the Wales international against his will would be futile.
Mills said: “We very much want Bale to stay. If a player is desperate to leave, it’s very difficult to force him to stay.
“We’ve seen it in other clubs. Even if he has a contract, you can’t force somebody to play for you.”
Villas-Boas’ comments prompted a report in the Spanish media that Bale would stay away from the training ground yesterday but they proved unfounded.
Such a move would have been out of character for the 24-year-old and he spent five hours at the Spurs training complex at Enfield. He was dropped off at 10.30am and collected at around 3.30pm. Speculation is at fever pitch, with every move being analysed for clues as to whether Bale will stay at White Hart Lane or become the latest British “galactico” at Real Madrid.
Tottenham yesterday insisted their decision to remove Bale’s image from the club’s official Twitter page was unrelated to the on-going transfer saga. Bale’s image had been on the left of the page with Clint Dempsey’s on the right. Spurs explained that the page was redesigned following Dempsey’s sale to the Seattle Sounders. Aaron Lennon and Moussa Dembele have been used in place of Dempsey and Bale. Bale, who scored 26 goals for Tottenham last year, has not played for Spurs since their first game of the summer – a 1-1 draw against Swindon on 16 July. He missed the club’s pre-season tour of Hong Kong because of a gluteal injury and did not travel to Monaco after suffering a foot problem.
Meanwhile, Luis Suarez will miss Liverpool’s pre-season friendly at Valerenga today with a foot injury. The unsettled Uruguay striker – subject of two failed bids by Arsenal this summer – will not travel with the squad to Norway as he undergoes a precautionary scan on an injury suffered in training.
Despite the reason for Suarez’s absence being made clear, the news is likely to fuel further speculation over the 26-year-old’s future. The player has made clear his desire to leave Anfield in search of Champions League football and that has alerted Arsenal, who have made bids of £30 million and £40,000,001.
Liverpool reported on their website: “Luis Suarez will remain on Merseyside as a precaution following an injury in training yesterday. He will undergo a scan on his foot later today.”
It is thought Arsenal believed that by lodging a bid of one pound above £40 million they would trigger a sale clause in Suarez’s contract.
Liverpool, however, appear adamant that the figure only requires them to inform the player of the offer and negotiate if they wish to sell. They have remained steadfast in their insistence the player, who is banned for the first six matches of next season for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, is not for sale.