Report: Gareth Bale agrees to Real Madrid transfer but Spurs say, not so fast

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According to reports in Spain earlier today, Gareth Bale to Real Madrid is a done deal.

But Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas doesn’t think so.

Not at all.

“On Gareth, I want to repeat what I was telling you last season and what I was telling you from the beginning of (preseason), 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.”

However Spanish paper Marca, which has particularly close links to Real, claims a six-year contract has been drawn up for Bale to sign, and the Welshman will be paid $12.9 million per season.

The shorter English version of the report on Marca’s English-speaking website is brief and to the point. (Here is the more detailed report in Spanish if you fancy sifting through this.)

In the shorter version there is an apparent quote from Real’s new assistant manager and former FIFA World Player of the Year, Zinedine Zidane. Here’s what he had to say about Bale after he scouted the player during Spurs’ Europa League match against Lyon in February:

He’s the number one. The player’s class lets you aspire to winning the Champions League. Not only is he a strong and fast player. He’s also clever on the pitch.

If Zizou speaks highly of Bale, Madrid must pull out all the stops to try and get him. However it is going to be a huge ask to sign him this summer, with a fee of around $115 million expected. But as the reports states, Real made Bale their number one target a long-time ago and made it their mission to bring the 24-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu when Barcelona signed Neymar back on May 26.

(MORE: Andre Villas-Boas, “Bale is not for sale at any price”)

The headline of the report is also ominous for Spurs fans. “Operation Bale: the final straight.”

Will this one rumble on much longer? Or will Bale be a Madrid player before tea-time tomorrow? I’m guessing the former.

Losing Bale would be a huge blow for Spurs, obviously. But having resisted the urge to cash in on their prized asset for so long, will they finally give in just weeks before the new season begins?

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia