Could Tottenham Hotspur lose their star man next summer?
Gareth Bale is the man of the moment at Tottenham Hotspur after his devastating hattrick against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
The winger was simply unstoppable as he drifted infield to rip Villa's leaky defence to pieces.
Spanish newspaper Marca, have described Bale's performance as a 'masterclass' - And it has done little to dissuade his suitors from wanting to buy him.
Marca claims Real Madrid, who have been constantly linked with Bale, in fact have first refusal on Bale's signature.
Tottenham and Madrid announced a forward-working strategic partnership after negotiating the transfer of Luka Modric in the summer, although the specifics of what it actually entails have not been made public, that is if they have even been established at all.
It was suggested at the time that Madrid having first option on Bale was part of the deal, but this was quickly denied by Spurs, but the issue has raised it's head again today.
Marca report: "Real Madrid enquired about Bale and was told that he wasn't for sale, but that 'Los Blancos' will be given first refusal when the Londoners do listen to offers. It is looking likely that this day will come this summer, because Bale has made it clear that he wants to play for a club where he can grow and compete for major trophies."
The paper also claims the Spurs-Madrid relationship is particularly cordial after the sale of Van der Vaart to Spurs a couple of seasons prior.
While this may not sound like good news to Spurs fans, it probably makes a bit of sense, and shouldn't actually affect their plans going forward.
Madrid having first option on Bale will only come into play if Tottenham want or feel obliged to sell, and neither of these look likely at the moment, and there is no pressure on them to do so.
It is important Spurs finish in the Champions League places this season, but even if they do not, you can expect Daniel Levy to dig his heels in to keep hold of his key man.
However further down the line, if Spurs did arrive at such a crossroads where it was wise to take £50 million for the Welshman, the deal - if it is true- will simply mean he will be unlikely to force a move to another Premier League club like Manchester United, and is a bit of a safety net against that.
It also puts Spurs in prime position to potentially get some talent from Madrid in part-exchange in the future, simply by agreeing to an option they may never decide to deliver upon.
What do you think of the report? How do you feel if it is true?
image: © Jan S0L0