Football transfer rumours: Gareth Bale back to Spurs for £54m?

It’sGarethBale’sbirthdayandamongthepoppingcorksandsoundsofpartyhornsbeingblownthereisalsotalkofhappyreturns,chieflyamovebacktoTottenhamHotspur,theclubthathelpedtransformBalefromaskinny,injury-pronesicklyleft-backintoagoal-guzzling,thunderousinside-forward.WithZinedineZidanehavingplacedBaleonadustyshelfinaRealMadridcloset,SpurshaveofferedtorefreshtheBernabéucofferswith£54mandthenletoffafewpartypoppersiftheybringthe30-year-oldbacktoN17.Thereisasnag,though.ItsayshereBaleearnsaround£600,000aweekthroughwagesandendorsementsatRealandSpurscould,atbest,matchhalfofthat.SowhileBalewouldappreciateanicecakeandabirthdayknees-upinnorthLondon,he’dexpectmuchgreatergiftslandinginhisbankaccounteachweektoplayfootballthere.He’spoopedhisownparty.

Spurshavetheireyeonanotherphysicallyimposinginside-forward,inanycase.WithRomahavingsentFrancoBaldinitoLondonfortalksoversigningTobyAlderweireld,MauricioPochettinohasmadeitclearhewantsthe20-year-oldNicolòZaniolotobesenttoSpursaspartofthedeal.PochettinoistryingtobeefuphissquadwithafewbigladsbeforethenewseasonandtheItalianticksalltherightboxes–he’sawhopping6ft3intallandhasaleftfootlikeananvil.

Forthesecondtimeinaweek,football-playingbrandNeymarhastoldPSGthathedoesn’twanttobethere.Hisbodylanguagehassaidasmuchforthepast12monthssoheneedn’thavewastedhisbreath.ButwithBarcelonahavingjustsplashedout£107monAntoineGriezmann,whatoptionshashegot?AsAlPacinosaidinCarlito’sWay:“Whenyoucan’tseetheanglesnomore,you’reintrouble,baby,you’reintrouble.”

LeicesterhavetoldHarryMaguirethathecanleavebutonlyifManchesterCityorManchesterUnitedpaymorethan£75mforthemodern-daySteveBruce.Justletthatsinkin.AsfortheactualSteveBruce,onceMikeAshleyhasremovedthemothsfromhiswallet,he’lltakeout£4mandsendittoSheffieldWednesdayascompensationfornabbingtheirmanagerandinstallinghimintheNewcastlehotseat.

CeltichavetoldArsenaltheywillhavetopaymorethan£25mfortherampagingleft-backKieranTierneybuttheGunnersareadamantthattheyarenotgoingtolicktheirfingersandpeeloffanymorenotes.Perhapsthereasontheywon’tgoanyhigherisbecausetheywanttokeep£25mspareforEverton,whosezippydisplaysforBrazilonthewaytowinningtheCopaAméricamadeUnaiEmeryfeelhotunderthecollar.TheGrêmioforwardisstillfavouritetojoinMilan,though.Meanwhile,inratherbizarrenews,theAjaxtechnicaldirector,MarcOvermars,hastoldhisformerclubtheyshouldflogMesutÖzilandbuyHakimZiyechfor£31.5m.“IthinkHakimZiyechisbetterthanMesutÖzil.Iwouldsaysellhim[Özil]andyouwillgetHakimforhalf.Butthey[Arsenal]didn’tlistentome.SoitcouldjustbethathestayswithAjax.”Whetherhe’sauditioningforthejobofArsenalsportingdirectororjustwilfullytryingtoupsethisemployersisunclear.It’sratheramusing,though.OvermarsalsosaidthatJuventusarethisclosetocompletingthesigningofMatthijsdeLigt.

Elsewhere,AstonVillaareonthevergeofsigningMarvelousNakambafromClubBrugge(Villafans,getworkingonthisLightningSeedssong,now),JeanMichaëlSerilookstobeheadingoutoftheFulhamexitdoorforGalatasarayorMilan,WolveswantWallacefromLazioandtheBundesligaisbracingitselfforthearrivalofChuckles.Yes,JoséMourinhowantstoworkinGermany.Oh,andPhilippeCoutinhohasbeenmakingencouragingnoisesaboutapossiblereturntoLiverpoolonatwo-yearloandeal.

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