Real Madrid are continuing their full-on offensive to try and pry Gareth Bale away from Tottenham this summer. The Welshman has long been identified as Madrid’s leading target, although Spurs have continued to insist that he will not be leaving during the current transfer window. But the stakes have been raised this week, with Marca, a publication believed to have close ties to Madrid, claiming that Bale has asked to leave Tottenham and has already agreed a contract in principal with Los Merengues.

And Marca has furthered that line by putting forward the suggestion that Bale’s absence from Tottenham’s pre-season matches is down to more than just “a knock,” as the club claims. The sports daily believes it may be more than a coincidence that Bale has not seen any action since reportedly informing Tottenham of his desire to join Madrid.

There is a different story coming from the London Evening Standard, however. Citing a close associate of the 24-year-old, it is claimed that Bale’s strong ties to his family mean that he does not want to move to Madrid this summer. Bale became a father for the first time last October. Yet, the Wales international has only recently said that he wants the experience of playing abroad and mentioned Spain as an ideal destination.

With Gonzalo Higuain set to be unveiled by Napoli, Madrid now need to reinforce their attack. A hint that Bale is seen as the man to do that was perhaps seen with manager Carlo Ancelotti starting Cristiano Ronaldo as a central striker in the friendly draw with Lyon on Wednesday, a switch that would accommodate Bale on the left wing.

Spanish soccer expert Graham Hunter believes that Madrid’s focus on Bale means that Liverpool Luis Suarez is very much a backup option at this stage. The Uruguayan was thought to have a strong chance of landing at the Bernabeu several weeks ago when he expressed his desire to leave Anfield, while mentioning the Spanish capital as an ideal destination. Instead, it is Arsenal that are currently frontrunners for his signature having made a bid of £1 over £40 million (€46.3m) to trigger a clause in the 26-year-old’s contract that means he can now hold talks over a move, although Liverpool have no obligation to sell.

It has also been rumored that Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti could make a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he managed last season at Paris Saint-Germain. The French champions’ big-money signing of Edinson Cavani had led to suggestions that Ibrahimovic could be on the way out and that the former Barcelona man was even prepared to take a pay cut to make a move to Madrid happen. But the 31-year-old has said that the idea of leaving has not even crossed his mind, although he will discuss the situation with the PSG’s president.

“I have a contract with PSG and in principle there’s no reason why my situation should change this summer,” he explained, according to French sports daily L’Equipe. “In fact I’ve still not thought about the question. Above all I have to meet my president. We should discuss the details -- small as well as big.”

Ancelotti may also have to make an addition at left-back with speculation persisting that Fabio Coentrao could be leaving the Bernabeu this summer. It appears that the first choice to come in is Granada’s Guilherme Siqueira. Spanish publication AS reports that the 27-year-old Brazilian has asked his club to allow him to join Madrid.

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