Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale continues to be pursued by Real Madrid. Reuters

Real Madrid remain undeterred in their determination to sign Tottenham’s Gareth Bale this summer and are reportedly reserving the number 11 shirt for the Welshman. Tottenham have so far been unrelenting in their insistence that Bale will not be departing the club in the current transfer window and, despite the north London side missing out on Champions League qualification, Bale has made no noises about desiring an immediate switch.

Bale has, though, again recently hinted that he wants to play in Spain at some stage of his career. And Madrid are intent on making that happen this summer, according to Spanish sports daily AS. Indeed, not only are Los Merengues leaving the number 11 shirt vacated following the departure of its previous wearer, Ricardo Carvalho, they have also been spotted printing Bale’s name on next season’s shirt. Of course, whether this has any significance beyond a bit of hijinks in the Madrid offices is somewhat doubtful.

AS believes that Madrid president Florentino Perez and chief executive Jose Angel Sanchez will travel with the side for a pre-season match against Bournemouth in England on July 21, with the aim of meeting with Tottenham officials to discuss the possibility of Bale’s transfer. However, Madrid are said to be unwilling to pay the €100 million figure that has been bandied about, although they would consider sending players in part exchange.

If they are unable to pry Bale away then Madrid will likely focus on securing an orthodox striker. Gonzalo Higuain is keen to leave but he may not be allowed to do so unless a replacement is found. British tabloid The Sun claims that Real Madrid are set to offer £40 million (€46.4m) for unsettled Liverpool frontman Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has made no secret of his desire to leave the Premier League and, indeed, to join Madrid, but it remains to be seen whether the Spanish giants are prepared to shell out such a large fee.

And Real Madrid are also thought to be apprehensive about meeting Asier Illarramendi’s valuation. The Real Sociedad midfielder has agreed personal terms with Madrid but talks are ongoing to thrash out a compromise over a transfer fee, reports Marca. Sociedad are thought to be seeking close to €40 million for the Spain Under-21 international, while Madrid value him closer to the €30 million mark.

Alternatives to add midfield strength will need to be considered if a deal for Illarramendi cannot be reached, but it doesn’t appear one of those will be Juventus's Arturi Vidal. The Chilean has been exceptional in helping the Bianconeri to back-to-back Serie A titles and has predictably been linked with some of the world’s top clubs, including Real Madrid. But Vidal has reiterated that, while flattered to be linked with Madrid, he is happy to stay put.

“I already have a contract with Juve so I will wait then we will see what happens," he said, according to Sky Sports. "The offers from big clubs like Real Madrid please me. Each player is fascinated by a club like them. But I'm already playing for a top club and I want to stay here for a long time.”

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