If you listened to Tuesday's batch of Tottenham rumours, there's a good chance you're convinced Gareth Bale will be playing club football in Spain next season. Reports surrounding Real Madrid's interest in Bale are running rampant, and the money attached could make it hard for Tottenham to say no.
The La Liga giants are reportedly gearing up for an £85 million transfer bid to pluck Bale from Tottenham's clutches. Spanish newspapers El Confidencial (article in Spanish) and Marca are both reporting that Madrid is hot on the chase for the 24-year-old's services.
As chronicled by ESPN UK, Los Blancos are prepared to offer Spurs an astronomical bid to land Bale. Feeling pressure from Manchester United and sensing that now is the right time to launch a Bale assault, Real Madrid are determined to pair Bale with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu next season.
Transfer Centre had this tweet to confirm Madrid's reported interest in Bale:
Gareth Bale has agreed a six-year deal with Real Madrid worth £8.5m per year. (MARCA) #Transfers— Transfer Centre (@CentreTransfer) July 23, 2013
We've known all along that Tottenham was going to face intense pressure from other clubs in pursuit of the star during the summer transfer window.
Rumours about Bale's desire to leave Tottenham have clouded his long-term future since the 2012-13 EPL season ended. Tottenham finished behind Arsenal in the EPL table and outside the Top Four in the Champions League hunt, leaving doubt in Bale's desire to continue with the club.
According to a report from Jack Wilson of the Daily Star, Spanish newspaper Marca is reporting that Bale has told Spurs chairman Daniel Levy he wants to leave White Hart Lane prior to the start of the next season.
According to Wilson's report, Levy will be willing to sell Bale if Madrid or Manchester United exceed the £80 million mark in their official transfer bid.
Madrid appears set to ring that bell.
An £85 million bid would break the record for a football transfer fee. Madrid's last big splash (£80 million for Ronaldo) is the current record-holder on that list, and two other moves (Kaka and Luis Figo) give Madrid three of the top-five highest transfer fees of all time.
Landing Bale would give Madrid four of the top six spots on the all-time list.
If you buy into the reports in Spain, Bale is banking on the fact that Tottenham won't be able to turn down the richest transfer bid in history when coupled with his desire to move on.
That being said, it appears Tottenham is ready to stand its ground. BBC Sport had this tweet to confirm that theory just after news started to break on the bid Madrid is reportedly preparing:
Andre Villas-Boas says he is counting on Gareth Bale to stay at Tottenham, amid reports he is set to join Real Madrid http://t.co/rWyD1Jx1ul— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 23, 2013
According to Sky Sports, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas isn't ready to start life without Bale just yet. Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong, he reiterated that Tottenham is planning on Bale being part of the club's long-term future:
On Gareth, I want to repeat what I was telling you last season and what I was telling you from the beginning of (pre-season) so I cannot extend myself.
He is a player that we are willing to continue to have, he's a Tottenham player, he's one of the most fantastic players in the world at the moment and we are counting on him for the future.
Bale scored 21 goals in 34 EPL matches last season.
He's been an up-and-coming star for Spurs since coming over from Southampton as a teenager in 2007, and his latest resume-builder in league play last season did enough to put some of the top clubs in the world in play for his services.
While it would be a crushing blow for Tottenham to lose Bale in any transfer this summer, it's hard to say that taking back just short of £100 million wouldn't be enough to convince Levy, Villas-Boas or any other Tottenham backer to pull the trigger and allow the youngster to continue his career in Spain.
Spurs have stood firm in their efforts to keep clubs sniffing around Bale's availability at bay. Sometimes, though, money talks, and Real Madrid know that crushing the transfer fee record by £5 million would do wonders in being a serious contender in the Bale sweepstakes.
Unlike losing Bale to Manchester United, Spurs would send him to another country and not have to potentially face him in league play twice every season.
Where will Gareth Bale play his first league match this season?
It's clear that Tottenham will have one of the toughest choices to make in club history if Madrid does indeed formally place a written bid to snatch Bale from White Hart Lane.
That decision could shape Bale's ascension to the top of the heap when it comes to EPL talents, or it could rear it's ugly head again next season if Spurs fail to finish better than they did last year.
One thing is for sure: We haven't heard the last from Madrid in their efforts to rival Barcelona's tandem of Lionel Messi and Neymar. Ronaldo and Bale might not have the same flair, but there aren't many football fans who would say no to that four-man rivalry for the next five years.
Follow Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.