Juan Jiménez / J. L. Guerrero
At 8 o’clock yesterday morning, Santiago Bernabéu maintenance workers were cleaning the stadium seats in the wake of Thursday’s unforgettable tribute match for Raúl. Two hours later, dozens of tourists were beginning guided tours of the Bernabéu, asking themselves the same question: “Why is scaffolding being installed in the directors’ box?”
Yesterday, Madrid made little attempt to conceal that they were erecting the same enclosure in which summer signings Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Dani Carvajal were unveiled (for the moment, Casemiro has not had an official unveiling). Gareth Bale’s arrival is imminent and preparations are underway at the Bernabéu to receive him.
The club’s plan is to present the Wales international in the coming hours, and stadium tours have been restricted to certain periods of the day. ‘Los Blancos’ aim to give their fans a surprise and are already finalising their preparations.
Madrid are confident of sealing a deal for Bale for 90 million euros; in such a case, Tottenham Hotspur are demanding payment in a single instalment. Were Real to finally pay for the 24-year-old in four instalments, the transfer would rise to over 100 million euros. Sources at the Premier League club are adamant that the deal “will not go below 100 million”, but senior figures at Real Madrid insist that the transfer fee will not exceed the sum paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom the La Liga outfit are in talks over a contract extension.
Real Madrid have everything in place: Bale’s number 11 shirt is ready, as is his unveiling. If the player cannot finally be presented today, Madrid will hold off the occasion until Tuesday. The first-team squad remain in training for their La Liga match at Granada on Monday, and club directors are reluctant to shift the focus away from the team.
Bale’s arrival would leave coach Carlo Ancelotti with a 26-man squad including Jesé, Denis Cheryshev and Jesús. The Italian coach will have to offload at least one player before 2 September. Defender Fabio Coentrao is keen to leave the Spanish capital; however, the Portugal international could not agree personal terms with Spurs and will not be included as a makeweight in the Bale deal.