While the Spanish media continues to breathlessly predict that Gareth Bale will soon join Real Madrid in a €100 million plus world record transfer deal, interest from the Bernabeu club’s leading figures appears to have cooled for the moment.
Both of Madrid’s sports dailies sent a special correspondent and a photographer to Wales’ training camp near Cardiff on Monday, where they joined the scrum of reporters eager to get Bale to offer up any details on his future plans.
The story inside AS revealed that Bale "surprisingly" drove to the training session himself, and also suspiciously parked far enough away from the hotel entrance that he could be approached and photographed while walking in. Marca reported that Bale drives a "spectacular" black Mercedes AMG Coupe.
However, neither paper could get anything close to an exclusive or even an ambiguous quote which could be used to push the story forward. Bale just smiled politely in answer to all questions as the reporters followed him across the car park.
Both papers agreed that Bale trained alone during the subsequent session and is unlikely to feature in Wednesday’s friendly against Ireland, due to the same dubious injury which has kept him out of all Tottenham’s recent friendlies. They also repeated reports from England that Manchester United could be about to rival Madrid for the player’s signature.
Meanwhile, in Catalonia, Mundo Deportivo claimed on Tuesday morning that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy had begun to doubt whether Madrid can really afford the €200 million package of transfer and wages which the transfer would require.
These doubts may tally with what appears a change in message from Madrid’s club figures in recent days. After Saturday’s 3-0 win against Inter Milan in Saint Louis, coach Carlo Ancelotti answered a question about Bale by praising young attackers Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata.
"Why talk about Bale when Jese and Morata have both played so well?" Ancelotti said. "They are young but incredibly talented."
Madrid president Florentino Perez’s last comments on Bale were also lukewarm, when he told ESPN that "€100 million seems a lot" to spend on the player.
This possible change of heart from Perez and Ancelotti may be due to surprise at how well Madrid's current players have reacted to Ancelotti’s tweaking of his side’s tactics during a pre-season where they went unbeaten and claimed the International Champions Cup, with impressive wins over LA Galaxy, Everton and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Among the biggest positives for Ancelotti has been how easily and impressively Isco had slotted in alongside fellow playmakers Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil in a flexible and technical midfield. Bale’s arrival would now perhaps upset the balance, making spending €100 million plus even more risky for the still heavily indebted Bernabeu club.