Gareth Bale became the most expensive footballer in the world in the summer of 2013 when he joined Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for £85.3 million.
However, years ago the Welshman could have been sold for just £5m, former Spurs manager Martin Jol has revealed.
The Dutchman was in charge of Tottenham between 2004 and 2007, and signed Bale from Southampton in the summer of 2007.
Bale eventually went on to become one of the greatest players in Tottenham history and one of the best in the Premier League, but Jol has revealed that initially the North London club’s bosses had some reservations about the then 17-year-old.
‘Spurs saw Bale as a left-back, but he probably wasn’t the best left-back in the world’, he told talkSPORT. ‘He was more creative, he had electric pace, so everybody saw that he was more suited as a forward player, and Harry Redknapp saw that later on.
‘I saw his potential straight away, but other people didn’t see that in the early stages of his career and that led to Spurs offering Bale to me when I went to Hamburg.
‘We had to pay a lot of money to get him though, about five or six million, which we couldn’t afford at the time. I then asked Daniel Levy if we could take him on loan instead, but at that time it was not possible.
‘So yes, Hamburg could have bought Bale for £5million because, of course, he was not playing at that moment. He couldn’t get into the side, so Spurs offered him to other clubs’.
Bale did struggle initially at White Hart Lane, but he gradually established himself as a first-team regular. The Wales international also switched his position from a left-back to a left-winger, and his performance for Tottenham in the 2012-13 season earned him worldwide recognition.
Madrid came calling after that campaign and snapped him up for a world-record fee. Last season Bale had the most successful campaign of his career to date, and played a crucial role in Los Blancos’s Copa del Rey and Champions League triumphs.
One can only wonder what would have happened had Bale been sold to Hamburg...