LONDON: The shadow of Real Madrid hangs over the top end of the Premier League transfer market writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Madrid have started to wind up the pressure on Tottenham over Gareth Bale while continuing to be linked with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
If either move were to succeed then the fall-out would be felt through the league as Tottenham or Liverpool spent the transfer fee on filling not one but two or three gaps in their squads.
The problem for both clubs is that they are not competing in the Champions League. Both Bale and Suarez have enjoyed playing alongside Europe’s best for Spurs and Ajax respectively. Both would relish the opportunity to rejoin the elite with a club always counted among the favourites.
Manchester United are watching the Bale situation closely while Arsenal were the first to declare a formal interest in Suarez.
However United’s priority remains prising Cesc Fabregas away fromBarcelona. The Spanish champions have insisted that he is not for sale at any price but United remain confident, perhaps for around £36m (amid continuing speculation linking Wayne Rooney with Chelsea).
Tottenham beat South China 6-0 in Hong Kong on Saturday without Bale. He missed the game with a minor injury but should be fit for a friendly in Monaco next Saturday.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas said: “Gareth Bale is a special player and he had a wonderful season last year. Everybody recognised the level he was playing at. We were extremely happy with the level of his performances.
“We are speaking with his agent about possible improvements to his contract but we don’t need to make any further statements than the ones we made regarding the transfer speculation or his contract.”
Only last season, the 24-year-old Welshman signed a new deal that expires in 2016.
As for Suarez, Arsenal offered £40m plus £1 to trigger a clause forcing Liverpool to inform the player of an offer. However Liverpool have insisted they will not sell.
Arsenal have never previously paid more than £15m for a player (Andrei Arshavin). They know, though, that Liverpool will not countenance selling Suarez for anything below £50m, if then. Suarez scored 30 goals last season and is crucial to Liverpool’s hopes of returning to the Champions League.
Madrid have indicated to Suárez’s representatives already that they have an interest, probably if a world record £81m is not enough to tempt Tottenham to sell Bale.
However Michael Owen, former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker, has warned Bale of the off-field difficulties in moving to Spain.
Owen, in an interview with BBC Radio Five, said: “It’s easier for a player to go from the Premier League to Spanish football than the other way around because of the style of football but it’s not so simple off the pitch because of the easygoing lifestyle.
“When you get over there you want your wife and children to be happy and settled but then you find you are stuck in a hotel for five months because the legal system to buy a house is so slow. You need to get a lot of things in order off the pitch. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.”
Owen believed Bale would stay in north London, for at least one more season. He was much more doubtful about Suarez sticking around.
He said: “It depends where you’re from. In South America the Spanish league is probably the most followed so that’s the one Luis Suarez grew up watching and supporting so I could understand it if he were to go there.”