Today in the Spanish capital one part of Madrid is under particular scrutiny as the weekend approaches.
The Santiago Bernabeu is on lock down.
Stadium tours are taking different routes and are being restricted, special deliveries have been arriving along Avenida de Concha Espina all morning and every exit of the Bernabeu has been closely guarded.
But still reporters in Madrid continue to dig for any indicator whatsoever that Gareth Bale may become the world’s most expensive soccer player by the end of the day with a $135 million transfer fee reported. Most will have been left disappointed as there’s been no sign of Bale in the Spanish capital…
Yet several clues can lead to a reasonable assumption that the 23-year-old Welshman isn’t too far away from a grand arrival in Madrid.
Exhibit A: Last night Real Madrid’s website accidentally posted an option to buy Bale’s Real Madrid shirt (pictured, left) on their club store.
Of course the error was picked up within a few seconds, people took screenshoots and pictures of the mishap were plastered all across the internet.
Real or fake? You decide.
But the option to buy Bale’s Madrid jersey soon disappeared and we are still none the wiser as to his whereabouts.
Put it this way, I don’t think he was in Tbilisi, Georgia, cheering on his Tottenham teammates as they defeated Dinamo Tbilisi 5-0 in a Europa League playoff game on Thursday afternoon.
Yet that little nugget of hope for Madrid fans wasn’t the most significant clue to come out of Northern Madrid on Friday.
Just take a look at the picture on the right, and you can see a rather large stage and grand curtain has been assembled close to the directors box at the Santiago Bernabeu.
As you will probably guess, this isn’t usually around because, well, it would block the view of the game for all of Real’s directors and dignitaries.
It must have been hastily erected this morning for a reason? And it had nothing to do with the game played to celebrate the career of legendary Real Madrid striker Raul last night.
All this has been reported by members of the media waiting anxiously outside the Bernabeu for Bale to pop out of turnstile B as if nothing is going on.
Not going to happen. But A for effort.
This transfer is shrouded in secrecy and is likely to be finalized in the next 24 hours.
Many sources are suggesting that Bale will be unveiled officially as a Real Madrid player by the end of the weekend, with either Saturday or Sunday a possibility as Madrid conveniently don’t play their next La Liga game until Monday at Granada.
Bale to Real should be sewn up by then. Although there has been one snag holding all this up.
Tottenham’s direct replacement for Bale, Brazilian winger Willian, has thrown a spanner in the works. The 25-year-old had passed a medical and Spurs had agreed a $45 million fee with Anzhi Makhachkala.
But Chelsea have swooped in overnight to change Willian’s mind and now Tottenham have no immediate replacement for Bale. This has caused a holdup and we may have to wait until Sunday evening until we see Bale wearing a gleaming white Real Madrid shirt.
The clues were pretty easy to find and piece together, an investigator of Sherlock Holmes’ ilk wasn’t required.
However the next guessing game continues, as nobody knows when that velvet curtain with Real Madrid’s badge emblazoned on it will actually open to unveil the most expensive soccer play in history.
Odds are Bale is a Madridista before Monday. But who knows?