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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gareth Bale joins Madrid for record fee

As Gareth Bale's anticipated move to Real Madrid edges closer, it's already being speculated how the Tottenham midfielder will adjust to life in the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid have finally completed the long-protracted signing of Gareth Bale after paying Tottenham a world record fee -- believed to be €100 million -- for his services.

Bale, 24, had been a target for Madrid all summer and Los Blancos eventually managed to convince Spurs to sell after agreeing a fee that beats the previous record of £80 million they set when buying Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009.

He has signed a six-year deal with Madrid and was presented to the media at a press conference at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.

With Ronaldo and Bale now in tandem at the Bernabeu, Madrid boast two of the most exciting talents in world football as they look to regain the Primera Division title from Barcelona and lift La Decima -- their tenth European Cup.

"I have had six very happy years at Tottenham but it's the right time to say goodbye," Bale said in a statement to Tottenham's official website. "We've had some special times together over the years and I've loved every minute of it.

"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.

"I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date. 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.

"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."

After establishing himself as the fulcrum of the Tottenham team in recent years, the Wales winger had become one of the most coveted players in the game.

Bale’s impressive displays for Spurs earned him PFA Footballer of the Year awards in 2011 and 2013, with his final season at White Hart Lane yielding 21 goals in 34 Premier League games.

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas stated throughout the summer that it was his intention to keep Bale at the club, but with the player's heart set on a switch to Madrid, the Portuguese turned his attention to strengthening his squad.

Spurs signed Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado over the summer, while Erik Lamela has also joined from Roma and Christian Erkisen from Ajax this week. 

Bale becomes Madrid's fifth summer signing, following Asier Illarramendi, Isco, Daniel Carvajal and Casemiro in moving to the Bernabeu.

He is the first British player to sign for Los Blancos since Jonathan Woodgate nine years ago and the first ever Welshman to play for the club.

Tottenhm boss Andre Villas-Boas pre-empted Real's announcement, saying: "The player is a wonderful player -- he is going to join Real Madrid," he said. "He leaves us with great memories from last season, and we wish him all the best."

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy told the club's official website: "Gareth was a player we had absolutely no intention of selling as we look to build for the future. He is a player whose career we have fostered and developed and he was only a year into his new four year contract.

"Such has been the attention from Real Madrid and so great is Gareth's desire to join them, that we have taken the view that the player will not be sufficiently committed to our campaign in the current season.

"We have, therefore, with great reluctance, agreed to this sale and do so in the knowledge that we have an exceptionally strong squad to which we have added no fewer than seven top internationals. More importantly, we have an immense team spirit and a dressing room that is hungry for success.

"We wish Gareth all the best in the future and he shall always be welcome at the Lane."

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