Tottenham Hotspur are prepared to sell Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and they will tell the Spanish club that the prospect of a deal would increase if the striker Alvaro Morata were included as a makeweight.
Real have so far bid a world record €100m (£86m) in straight cash for Bale, which has not been enough to sway the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, and they have indicated a readiness to offer players as further sweeteners.
They have put forward the left-back Fábio Coentrão and the winger Angel di María, whose values they have variously factored into the potential package, but Tottenham maintain that the deal will be on their terms, meaning that they choose any makeweights and the one that they want is Morata.
Given the 20-year-old is the most highly rated young player at the Bernabéu, particularly after he secured the Golden Boot as Spain won the European Under-21 Championship this summer, it effectively means that the package Tottenham are seeking is worth more than £100m.
Real, who have waged an increasingly aggressive campaign to sign Bale during this transfer window, may consider Tottenham's willingness to negotiate, at last, as a positive sign.
On the other hand, they will be loth to lose Morata, especially as he has been earmarked by the coach, Carlo Ancelotti, for a more prominent role. Real's decision to sell Gonzalo Higuaín to Napoli for £32m was motivated in part by the feeling that Morata was ready to challenge Karim Benzema for a place in the starting XI.
Real believe that Morata could be Spain's future No9 and their appreciation of him has been reflected in their efforts to secure him to a long-term deal with an enormous buy-out clause. Morata's contract expires in 2015.
It must be noted that swap or part-exchange deals at the highest level are extremely rare, because of their complexity. The reasons include the inevitable argument over the value of the makeweight, his personal terms and desire to make the move. Levy would want any makeweight to come over and above the €100m fee for Bale whereas Real would decrease the cash sum according to the player involved.
"It is difficult to talk about Bale because at the moment he is not a Real Madrid player," the Spanish club's coach, Carlo Ancelotti, said from a training camp in the US. "I believe the club is in talks to find a solution and we will see what happens."
Tottenham continue to press on with their other business and they are poised to break their transfer record for the second time this summer with the €30m (£26m) signing of Roberto Soldado from Valencia. They paid £17m for the midfielder Paulinho from Corinthians, which eclipsed their previous record outlay – the £16.5m spent to take Luka Modric from Dynamo Zagreb in 2008.
Tottenham's technical director, Franco Baldini, has spent time in Valencia to broker the deal, which will end Andre Villas-Boas's search for a centre-forward. The Valencia president, Amadeo Salvo, said on Wednesday that the transfer was all but done.
"The deal with Tottenham has been completed," he said. "A problem with Soldado's agents has come up and the player will not leave the club until a solution has been found."
Tottenham do not anticipate any hitches and they are looking forward to welcoming the 28-year-old Spain international, who scored 30 goals in 46 appearances for Valencia last season. Villas-Boas, who had also looked at Aston Villa's Christian Benteke only for him sign a new contract, went through last season with Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor as his recognised, senior strikers.
Villas-Boas has allowed Steven Caulker to move to Cardiff City for £9m, which becomes a record transfer for the Welsh club, overtaking the £8.5m that they paid to tempt the Denmark striker Andreas Cornelius from FC Copenhagen. The move raised eyebrows in some quarters as Caulker, who made a goalscoring debut for England in the 4-2 friendly defeat by Sweden last November, had been touted as the future for Tottenham.
Moreover, with the long-term injury casualty Younès Kaboul still to feature in pre-season, Jan Vertonghen out with ankle damage and William Gallas released, Villas-Boas now has only one fit, senior centre-half in Michael Dawson.
Tottenham are pushing to sign the 23-year-old Romania and Steaua Bucharest central defender Vlad Chiriches, although it has been reported that the club's owner, Gigi Becali, who is in jail, is unhappy for the deal to proceed. Caulker feared that his starting opportunities at Tottenham stood to be limited.
Tottenham have also signed the winger Nacer Chadli from Twente for £7m but Bale's future continues to dominate. The 24-year-old, who is determined to be granted his dream move to Real, reported to the Tottenham training ground on Wednesday morning when the squad reconvened after their involvement in the Barclays Asia Trophy and two days off.
But Bale did not train with the first-team group, as he felt the minor gluteal muscle injury that has hampered him for the past two weeks. He is unlikely to feature in the friendly against Monaco at Stade Louis II on Saturday.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Jan S0L0