Harry Redknapp says only a mega-bid in the region of the world record £80million Real Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo would convince him to sell Gareth Bale because the winger is so important to his long-term project at Tottenham.
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Bale will line up for Tottenham as they visit Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday having established himself as one of Europe's top talents with some eye-catching displays in the competition this season.
But Redknapp has warned Tottenham that although it could be tempting to cash in on the 21-year-old if a large offer was to arrive, the price of being a 'selling club' could turn out to be much higher if the club's other stars decide their ambitions can not be achieved at White Hart Lane.
Bale, who signed a new four-year deal three weeks ago, admitted on Monday he would not rule out a move to one of Europe's top club some time in the future, but Real coach Jose Mourinho said he would be unlikely to splash the large fee required this summer because his left flank is well stocked.
Redknapp said in Spain: "We don't want to sell him. If you are looking to build a club, you can't be selling Gareth as then (Luka) Modric would want to go and then someone else would want to go. Then Tottenham would end up where they were four or five years ago, finishing halfway up the table each year. I had it at West Ham. We let Rio (Ferdinand) and Frank (Lampard) go and then the rest followed.
"Once you start selling one then I think it sends out the wrong signals. Manchester United sold [Cristiano] Ronaldo but they got an offer of £80million so in the end it was good business. But we wouldn't want to sell a player like Gareth Bale at this time, when we're trying to build the club. It would have to be that type of figure. I'm sure it would have to be an amazing figure if you ever sold him. But how do you replace a player like that? It's very difficult.''
With Tottenham struggling to make it into the top four, Redknapp admits Bale's head could be turned by a club offering him Champions League football next year, but insists a move would be detrimental to the youngster's development.
"If a player comes in and says that he wants to go, or the agent says that he wants to move, there is very little you can do about it, but I don't see that happening,'' Redknapp added. "I think that he needs a few years playing at home. He is only a boy. He has plenty of time to do that later in his career.''
Bale trained with his team-mates at the Bernabeu on Monday and will start Tuesday's match against the nine-time European champions so long as he suffers no recurrence of the hamstring injury that has troubled him recently.
Spurs were given an additional lift with the news that William Gallas could make a surprise return from a knee complaint that prevented him from kicking a ball just three days ago. Other injuries mean the Londoners may not be able to fill their allocation of seven substitutes for the match, but Redknapp insists his team of underdogs can still beat Mourinho's side - and even make it to the final.
"I don't feel any pressure. No-one expected us to be here at the start of the season and we have a big chance of winning,'' Redknapp said. "We are not just coming here to turn up. We want to keep progressing. The dream is still there for us. We have to make that dream come true. We want to go all the way if we can. We know how difficult it's going to be but there is still a chance and we have to take it.''
Much of the pre-match focus centred around the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Madrid forward has been battling a hamstring injury, but some have suggested his injury was part of a mind-games ploy by Mourinho. Redknapp has no doubt that the former Manchester United man will feature and admits he will prove hard to shackle.
"He is an absolute certainty to play,'' Redknapp said. "He and (Lionel) Messi are the best to players in the world so it will be hard to stop him.''