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Schalke confirm Gnabry interest


Bale yet to open Spurs talks as Real lurk

Despite the increasing optimism in recent weeks that Gareth Bale will extend his stay at Tottenham, Real Madrid's long-standing interest in the Welshman is likely to intensify.

Gareth Bale’s agent has revealed that the player has not begun contract renegotiations with Tottenham Hotspur, as Real Madrid firmly believe they will bring the Welshman to the Bernabeu this summer.

- Ramos: Bale would be a success

The player’s representative, Jonathan Barnett, also told Marca TV on Tuesday night that it would be an “honour” if Real president Florentino Perez were interested in Bale, but he did “not know if there has been an offer”.

Sources in both Madrid and London, however, have told ESPN that the Spanish club’s plans are much more advanced than that. Real official Zinedine Zidane has immersed himself in the project, and is utterly confident of making Bale the marquee signing to accompany Carlo Ancelotti’s pending appointment.

His comments about the player at the weekend were seen as part of a wider charm offensive. The bullishness of Real’s confidence is akin to the insistence they would sign Luka Modric last summer, and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

Given how delicate the situation is, it is also seen as hugely significant that Barnett would choose to speak on the record to a media outlet with such close connections to the Spanish club.

When specifically asked on Marca's television station about reports of Bale’s contract renegotiation, Barnett answered: “No, we haven’t spoken to anybody.”

He added: “If someone like Perez was interested in Bale it would be a great honour, and we would listen. I don’t know if there has been an offer. What I do know is that the player has three years left on his contract.”

The 2013-14 season, however, would also be Bale’s third consecutive season without Champions League football. Despite his obvious happiness at White Hart Lane, as well as an exceptionally strong professional and personal relationship with Spurs boss Andre Vilas-Boas, that lack of elite football is now known to be a huge issue for the player’s camp.

There is the increased feeling that a player of his talent needs to make the most of the top stage for as much of his career as possible. What’s more, Bale’s first choice if he were to ever leave Tottenham has always been Real Madrid. It is a personal ambition to eventually play at the Bernabeu for the Spanish club, even it does not happen this summer.

Real president Florentino Perez, meanwhile, has added further to the speculation, saying to Cadena Cope: "Gareth Bale was born to play in Real Madrid."

For their part, Spurs are still hopeful of keeping Bale, and the player would feel an element of regret about ending a professional relationship with Villas-Boas after just one campaign.

Tottenham have also stepped up their plans to greatly enhance the squad following last season’s Champions League disappointment, and are in negotiations for the £18 million signing of Internacional forward Leandro Damiao. A significantly lower bid was rejected by the Brazilian club last January.


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