Gareth Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, has appeared on Marca TV to express his willingness to listen to an offer from Real Madrid for the player. Barnett, the chairman of the Stellar Group, said there have been no discussions as yet regarding a new contract at Tottenham Hotspur for the Wales international and he added that in his view Bale is "worth more than Neymar … he's a better player than him". The Brazil forward has just completed a high-profile, £51.3m transfer from Santos to Barcelona.
Barnett spoke on the Futboleros show late on Tuesday night and although he said that Bale has three years to run on his Tottenham contract, it seems worrying for the London club that he should discuss the forward's future on a TV station with close links to Real. The Spanish club have long coveted Bale and the 23-year-old himself has always considered Real as the dream move if he were to leave Spurs.
Real signed the midfielder Luka Modric from Tottenham last summer for £30m and there is the strong belief at the Bernabéu that Bale will now follow, even though the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, has insisted the player is not for sale or, at least, that it would take world-record money to prise him from White Hart Lane. Real set the mark in 2009 when they paid £80m to take Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.
Real's confidence is based on their knowledge of Bale's admiration for them and, also, the intermediary work that Zinedine Zidane has put in on the prospective deal. The club employ Zidane in an ambassadorial capacity. Real, who have parted company with José Mourinho, intend to back their new manager with a marquee signing. Carlo Ancelotti of Paris St-Germain is the favourite to take over from Mourinho .
"If Florentino [Pérez, the Real president] is interested in Gareth Bale, it would be an honour and we'd listen," Barnett said. "But his contract is with Tottenham. We aren't free to talk with anybody at the moment, that's the point we're at.
"I can understand a lot of teams are interested in him. He's a great player but he has a contract with Tottenham. I don't know if there has been a bid [from Real]. What I do know is that the player has three years left on his contract."
Barnett was asked whether he is negotiating a new contract with Tottenham for Bale; Levy is known for his readiness to reward players after outstanding performances and Bale has just had the season of his life. His 26 goals in all competitions for the club, plus five more for Wales, helped him to become the PFA's player of the year and young player of the year, and he also won the Football Writers' Association player of the year award.
"No, we haven't spoken with anybody," Barnett added. The agent went on to discuss Bale's market value in relation to Neymar and how much the former may cost. The Neymar deal is complicated, with the basic fee to Santos and the other economic partners being €28m but the figure rising sharply with add-ons.
"Bale is a better player than Neymar and he's demonstrated it in one of the best leagues in the world," Barnett said. "I would imagine clubs want him not just because they missed out on Neymar but because of how good he is. He should be the first option, we'll see … Bale is worth more than Neymar.
"Bale is very relaxed [about the situation] … he's enjoying a deserved holiday," Barnett added. "He only wants to be happy and enjoy his football."
Tottenham remain determined to fend off Real and Bale's other admirers while they push ahead with their incoming business for next season.
Their top target is still the Brazil and Internacional striker Leandro Damiao, whom they have tried to sign for the past few transfer windows. Further talks between Inter and Tottenham have taken place and Levy is hopeful of closing a deal for around £18m.
André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, has a very good relationship with Bale, and he has endeavoured to help him enjoy his football; he gave him a free role in behind the striker in the closing stages of the season. Bale's respect for Villas-Boas was reflected when he named his new-born daughter Alba Violet, meaning that she shared her initials with the Portuguese. Villas-Boas has maintained that there is no chance of Tottenham losing Bale this summer and he would be horrified if they did.
The club's failure to qualify for the Champions League was a blow to their hopes, though, as Bale is eager to play regularly in Europe's elite competition. He enjoyed his first taste of it in 2010-11, when his performances first attracted the attention of the continent's biggest clubs. Bale is realistic about his chances of playing at the major international tournaments with Wales, which has heightened his focus on the Champions League.