Tottenham Hotspur have opened new contract talks with their midfielder Gareth Bale and are confident of keeping the Wales international despite him being linked with a move to Real Madrid on an almost daily basis, manager Andre Villas-Boas said yesterday.
“He signed a new contract last year, but talks have started between the chairman and his agent and are ongoing,” Villas-Boas told the media in Hong Kong where Spurs are playing in the Premier League Asian Trophy pre-season competition.
“It doesn’t mean there is going to be an agreement, but we are confident,” he said. “The player is under contract. He signed a new contract last year, he is a special player, had a wonderful season last year and at the moment we are extremely happy with him.”
“We are speaking with his agent about a possible improvement, but we don’t need to comment further on any transfer speculation or his contract,” Villas-Boas said.
Bale, 24, signed a four-year deal last year and had an outstanding season although Spurs missed out on a Champions League place by one point.
According to non-stop and frenzied reporting in Spain and England since the season ended, Real Madrid are leading the chase for the player. Marca newspaper said Real were preparing to offer Spurs what would be a world-record fee of ￡85 million (US$130.16 million) for him.
However, it has also been widely reported that Bale, who became a father for the first time last year, is settled at Spurs and has no plans to leave the London club.
Bale is with the squad in Hong Kong, but will not play in today’s match against South China because he is recovering from a strained gluteus muscle.
Villas-Boas, speaking in a Hong Kong hotel, also confirmed that Belgian international defender Jan Vertonghen would be out for two to three weeks after damaging ankle ligaments on the wet playing surface during Spurs’ opening game against Sunderland on Tuesday.
Vertonghen lost his footing during Spurs’ 3-1 defeat and is now in danger of missing the start of the season. Spurs begin their campaign away to Crystal Palace on Aug. 18.
Heavy rain was forecast for Hong Kong for the remainder of yesterday and before today’s match, and Villas-Boas said he would prefer not to have to play the game.
“The conditions are extremely poor, but there is nothing we can do about it. We’ve lost one player through injury — and if I can be sincere I would prefer not to go ahead [with today’s game] but that’s the reality,” he said.
“Its our responsibility and if the authorities decide to go ahead, we will play the game,” he said.