Gareth Bale’s not for sale; but if he is, Spurs want Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid

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We’re two weeks out from the start of the Premier League season, and there’s still little movement toward a resolution on Gareth Bale. We know Real Madrid’s willing to break the world transfer record to get him, so money is no object. Sure, Spurs are going to be intent to extract every Euro they can from the Merengues, but whether to sell their best player seems the more pertinent question.

Today André Villas-Boas is claiming the Welsh international is not for sale, not only outlining Tottenham’s stance but also deriding Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti for speaking publicly about the clubs’ limited contact:

“I think the rumours that anything is imminent are not true …”

“We’ve allowed ourselves conversations with Real Madrid, confirmed by their coach I think wrongly, but the only thing we’ve communicated is that the player is our player and not for sale.”

Asked if he felt Ancelotti was in the wrong, Villas-Boas said: “I think so, in my opinion.

“Carlo is a person I appreciate a lot and we have great respect for each other, but bearing in mind this situation they have decided to make it public …

“But of the player, bearing in mind the investment you have seen at Tottenham recently, he is a player who is decisive for us. We are building a very strong team and we are building for a future with Gareth.”

That’s Spurs’ public stance. Behind the scenes, things may be different. From The Independent:

Negotiations between Tottenham and Real Madrid over the sale of Gareth Bale have been stepped up in the past 24 hours, but with Spurs insisting on the inclusion of Spain’s Under-21 international Alvaro Morata in the proposed £87m transfer.

Not to question Mr. Villas-Boas’s intentions with the media, but the Independent’s reporting seems closer to reality. Even if you value Morata at nothing (instead of the $12 million he’d likely fetch on the open market), this is still a world record fee: just short of $133 million.

You’ve probably heard all the analysis you need on a potential Bale transfer. There’s no need to retread. At some point, there’s a simple set of questions Spurs chairman Daniel Levy needs to answer:

  • Does Tottenham Hotspur intend to hold on to Gareth Bale forever?
  • If no, what else do you need to sell him?

Because the idea that Daniel Levy, with $133 million, can’t replace Gareth Bale’s on-field value — as huge as it is — is only slightly less dubious than Villas-Boas’s “Not For Sale” pledge.