His transfer will probably be for a record sum, and Tottenham will probably look back smiling on the day they sent their best player packing. Real Madrid will probably be satisfied as well, having acquired one of the world's best players for a price that's mere pittance in their unlimited kitty. These things will probably happen.
But it seems each side has made it their goal to make the process as excruciating as possible.
Real's interest in Bale has been known for months. Florentino Perez all but admitted as much in June, and the process has been evolving throughout July. There have been starts and stops, fits of indecision along the way. But the fact remains that Real Madrid want Bale and they're willing to pay anything to make that happen.
And I mean anything. Sky Sports has reported that Madrid have made a former offer of £85 million for the 24-year-old Welshman. That number would pulverize the previous record of £80 million Real paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008 and blow every other move that's happened this summer out of the water.
Keep in mind that these figures don't include Bale's wages, which will certainly see an astronomical increase to his weekly salary. Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail noted that Tottenham were willing to pay Bale £150,000 a week to stay. It wouldn't shock anyone if he were to get paid well past that mark, perhaps even all the way to £200,000. Real know what they want, and they're going out of their way to get it.
The bidding-against-themselves situation only continues to escalate, and it's a bit petulant. Real don't necessarily need Bale. They've just decided he's the player who will push them over the top in the La Liga table and be the superstar of the club for a long time going forward.
Here's where this situation gets crazy: Tottenham have balked at the world-record price. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has carried the stance that Bale isn't for sale, and it's one he's seemingly kept in negotiations with Real. They have no intention on becoming a feeder system to larger clubs and have made a concerted effort to compete for a Champions League berth; Bale is an integral part of that effort.
The 24-year-old kid from Cardiff nearly carried Spurs there last season. With a questionable supporting cast around him—especially on the attack—Bale almost single-handedly pushed Tottenham to a fifth-place finish in the table. He scored 21 goals in club play and had four assists, not to mention his Kobe Bryant-esque basking in the waning moments of crunch time. On multiple occasions last season, Bale turned one point into three and zero into one.
Only Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez scored more goals than Bale. No one had a higher per-game average rating, per WhoScored's metric measurements. Again, he's 24. And again, he didn't have a preponderance of help in the starting 11. So it's at least understandable that management would be hesitant to make such a move.
Another underrated factor: fan reaction. Bale is absolutely beloved in Tottenham. As he should be. He's a superstar who cut his teeth at White Hart Lane, the type of star fans desperately hope to find, cultivate and watch become the face of the club. There was some prevailing thought that Bale could be Spurs' version of Wayne Rooney. You know, before the whole ugliness with him and management at Old Trafford.
But here's the thing: £85 million. Every player has a price. And Real are seemingly willing to blow out even the most optimistic view of what Bale is worth.
I can count on two fingers how many players are worth £85 million. Neither one is Gareth Bale. One, of course, is Lionel Messi, the world's best player for almost a half-decade running and likely years into the future. The other is Ronaldo, Bale's likely future teammate and the man he may someday replace as the face of Los Blancos.
That latter result isn't as surefire as anyone would make you think. Bale has one season under his belt of elite production—last year. He had 21 goals in 2012-13 in 34 starts. He had 19 in his previous 89 contests, spread over three seasons. There are many reasons for that, and Bale's goal-scoring prowess didn't come out of left field, so to speak; Tottenham had long viewed him as a superstar-in-waiting.
Is Gareth Bale worth £85 million?
However, the notion that Bale is guaranteed to continue that level of excellence is misguided. Real would be paying Ronaldo prices for one year of Ronaldo-lite production. To put it another way, are we really sure Bale is worth tens of millions more than Neymar, Barcelona's massive coup from earlier in the transfer period? Or the £55 million fee PSG paid for Edinson Cavani this month?
The answer you're looking for, folks, is no. Cavani, Neymar and Bale occupy the same strata. Maybe Bale projects as the best long term, but not to the extent that it justifies an extra £30 million.
And just imagine what Tottenham would be able to do with their Bale money. It doesn't just go into a money pit. They will have funds allotted to go out and get players, perhaps ones talented enough to make Spurs an all-around better squad.
The fact is, Madrid are making an insane offer. Tottenham are insane not to take it. Maybe these two deserve each other, after all.
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