Gareth Bale will report to Tottenham Hotspur's training ground on Wednesday when the squad resume their pre-season programme, although it is unclear how full a part he will play in the session as he nurses a slight injury and agonises over whether his proposed transfer to Real Madrid will be sanctioned.
The Wales forward has his heart set on the move to the Bernabéu and is desperate for Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy, to accept Real's offer. Bale has the support of his family, with his mother and father, Debbie and Frank, meeting Levy on Monday to urge him to negotiate with the Spanish club.
Real have indicated their willingness to pay what would be a world record €100m [£86.3m] for Bale but Levy has so far refused to budge, even though there is the belief in the player's camp that the deal will be done before the transfer window closes on 2 September.
Levy has endured his share of player trading sagas and last summer Luka Modric missed training sessions and Tottenham's tour to the United States as he pushed for a move to Real, which was eventually signed off. Bale will not follow suit by staying away from the training ground, however aggrieved he feels by Levy's hardline stance and however much his thoughts are scrambled.
Bale's over-riding sense of duty obliges him to turn up, although he is expected to need treatment for the gluteal muscle problem that has undermined his pre-season preparations. Bale has played in only one of the club's friendlies – the opener against Swindon Town – and, despite travelling to Hong Kong for the Asia Trophy, he missed the matches against Sunderland and South China.
There is a psychological aspect to the injury in that he is nervous about aggravating it and jeopardising his dream move to Real. The pitches in Hong Kong were soft because of the heavy rain and Bale's team-mate, Jan Vertonghen, slipped and damaged his ankle ligaments against Sunderland; he is now a selection doubt for the start of the new season. Bale did not want to risk suffering in similar fashion.
The 24-year-old is frustrated at having missed vital pre-season work and he is mindful of the need to be in peak condition for when he hopes the Real move will happen. André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, has suggested that Bale could be available for Saturday's friendly against Monaco in France but it is not yet certain whether the player will feature. He is not in the right frame of mind to play.
Bale's exit strategy has come under scrutiny. He does not want to submit a formal transfer request and as yet he has not spoken in public of his desire to join Real this summer. Like many players, particularly those who have spent some time at a club and have enjoyed a good relationship with the supporters, he does not want to sour things at the end. He hopes that Levy will agree to the deal with Real before the situation becomes any more difficult.
Bale's strength of character, though, should not be underestimated. He has always known what he has wanted, from when he left home in Cardiff at 15 to join Southampton's academy to battling through a testing start at Tottenham, when he suffered a serious ankle injury. Bale has imagined himself at Real and is determined to see it happen.
Levy continues to dig in and to embellish his reputation for hard-nosed dealing. It might also be wise for him to complete one or two new signings before he sells Bale as entering the market with €100m in the bank would surely encourage rival clubs to hike up their prices.
Tottenham are close to a deal for the €30m-rated Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, and it would break the club's transfer record for the second time this summer, while they have made a move for the 23-year-old Romania centre-half Vlad Chirichef of Steaua Bucharest. They have already signed the midfielder Paulinho from Corinthians for £17m, together with the winger Nacer Chadli from Twente for £7m.
But it is Bale's future that dominates the agenda, with leading figures from Real entering the argument. "If he has expressed a desire to join Madrid, then Tottenham should give him permission to speak with us," said Zinedine Zidane, the club's ambassador. "The chance to play for Real Madrid might only come around once in a player's lifetime – and it is understandable that Gareth doesn't want to miss out on it."
The Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas said: "We are talking about one of the top three or four best players in Europe. Every transfer is controversial in its own way but we are speaking about a very good, decisive player. I'm sure we'll make another signing before the transfer window shuts."
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image: © Matt Boulton