By Greg Stobart
Gareth Bale is ready to tell Tottenham he wants to join Real Madrid next summer if the Spanish giants meet the club's £50 million asking price, Goal.com has learned.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has made Bale his top transfer target and he is ready to go head-to-head with rivals Barcelona for the Welsh winger’s signature in a deal that would shatter the transfer record for a British player.
Both clubs have already made steps in their pursuit of Bale with informal enquiries to Spurs and the player’s representatives - and Real are understood to be leading the race to land the 23-year-old as he prepares to tell the Londoners he wants to leave.
Bale signed a four-year contract in June but feels next season will be the right time to join a traditional European powerhouse where he can play regularly in the Champions League and reach his full potential.
Spurs have made a shaky start to the season under Andre Villas-Boas - they sit eighth in the Premier League - and would need to finish in the top four to have any chance of keeping Bale.
The former Southampton man has made little secret of his interest in playing abroad in the future and Spurs would be far more willing to sell to Real - with whom they have a partnership agreement - than a Premier League rival.
Luka Modric swapped north London for the Santiago Bernabeu during the summer in a deal worth £33.2m, but it is understood no extensive discussions were held over a future move for Bale and there is certainly no agreement - informal or otherwise - for Real to have first option on the player.
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The asking price is likely to be a sticking point, particularly in light of the months of haggling between the clubs before Modric eventually completed his switch to the nine-time European champions.
Tottenham have viewed Bale as a £50 million player ever since his right to belong in a small elite of A-list players was confirmed by his astonishing Champions League performances home and away against Italian giants Inter in the autumn of 2010.
Barcelona are highly unlikely to enter a bidding war for a player who cost Spurs £5m in 2007 and Real have the commercial and financial might to tempt Tottenham in to striking an agreement.
Manchester City have also been tracking Bale for some time but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would quote an eye-watering £60m asking price to a rival Premier League club.
Asked earlier this year about the prospect of one day playing for Real or Barca, Bale was diplomatic but made no attempt to hide his desire to play in La Liga.
He said: “If you said to any young player that you could play for Barcelona or Real would they turn it down? Probably not.
"If a bid was accepted you would obviously have to seriously consider it.”