Fight to get Bale back, Spurs boss urges club

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham are flying high in the Premier League, and the Argentinian manager has said that the London club should be open to the possibility of competing with the likes of Manchester United to sign Gareth Bale if he becomes available.

Leaked documents show that Spurs would have first refusal on the Welsh forward, who currently plays for Real Madrid under new coach Zinedine Zidane but was very comfortable under the previous one, Rafael Benitez.

United are among those who have explored trying to sign Bale, but Spurs could in theory hijack any transfer if they matched the agreed price within 72 hours, according to the terms of his contract, which has been leaked online. Bale would almost certainly have the final say on his choice of club should Real allow him to leave.

"If we have the option to sign him, why not?" Pochettino said. "He's a great player and can improve our squad. This is the type of profile that we find."

Bale's agent reacted in anger at the 2013 contract being made public and called for an investigation. The documents are more embarrassing for Real than Tottenham.

Real claimed that the deal was worth €91.59 million (S$142 million at the current rate), compared with the €96 million paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, presumably to keep the Portugal player happy.

But Bale's fee amounted to €100,759,418 as it was paid in instalments rather than up front, the last of which is due on July 16 this year.

Tottenham, who lie fourth in the Premier League five points behind the joint leaders, have a good chance to pocket three points today when they visit Crystal Palace, who are reeling from back-to-back defeats and have not found the net in their last five league outings.

Pochettino's side are unbeaten in their last nine league away games and progressed in the FA Cup in midweek to maintain hopes of a domestic and European treble.

The manager, though, has been keen to emphasise that the players keep their focus amid talk of a Premier League title challenge.

To find a solution to Palace's shooting woes, they have effectively agreed terms with Emmanuel Adebayor over a short-term deal. But, given the Togolese has not played competitive football since May, they are exploring all their options before committing ahead of the closure of the window on Feb 1.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Fight to get Bale back, Spurs boss urges club'. Print Edition | Subscribe