The future of Gareth Bale is coming under ever more speculation as the Tottenham winger enjoys perhaps the best spell of his career.
Yet with interest coming from Real Madrid, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has reiterated that his current club have no intention of selling him, and in any case, Real Madrid would be unlikely to be able to afford him.
The Welshman scored for Wales last night in a man-of-the-match performance that came off the back of two superb goals in his last two club matches at West Brom and Norwich.
Those goals have helped move Spurs to within a point of Chelsea and they will go third, at least for a few hours, if they beat Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime.
Villas-Boas knows Tottenham will probably need to remain in one of the coveted Champions League places come the end of the season if they are to hang on to Bale but suggested that his value, at more than £40m, is now so high that the top clubs might not be able to match it, report The Evening Standard.
“You know it’s extremely difficult,” Villas-Boas said today. “Just as it is difficult for us to have a player of this dimension playing so well, calling the attention of other teams, it is difficult for other clubs to buy a player like this with the economic situation as it is.
“Players who perform at this level will always get attention, but it doesn’t mean the club doesn’t see a future with Gareth. It is intimately related to the objectives we achieve for the season. He is a player we rate very highly and one we are not willing to let go.
“At the moment we are very fortunate to have him and we think we are going to be able to reach our objectives with him at this level of form. If we reach those objectives, then hopefully we can continue to have Gareth at our club.
“Can we keep him if we reach the Champions League? I think so. This is where most of the clubs want to be and where most of the players want to play.
“It’s part of our objectives, so hopefully achieving it can mean that we are able to attract better players and continue to hold on to our best ones.”
Bale scored another fine goal for Wales in their friendly victory over Austria last night and was due to return to Spurs’ Enfield training base today to begin preparations for the game against Newcastle.
Villas-Boas’ side will seek to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 10 matches. They will be without Jermain Defoe, who the head coach expects to be absent for three weeks after damaging ankle ligaments at West Brom, but believe Emmanuel Adebayor will be available.
The forward’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations ended last Sunday when Togo were knocked out by Burkina Faso and although Villas-Boas said he had spoken to the 28-year-old, he would not reveal his whereabouts.
Adebayor was reported still to be in South Africa yesterday following confusion about which flights the squad would take. Many are thought to have chosen not to take the plane provided by the Togo football authorities on Monday.
Villas-Boas said: “We’re trying to establish the best flight connection for him. He had issues to take care of after the tournament so we’re trying to see if we’ll have him back for today’s training session or tomorrow’s.
“He will be selected for the squad against Newcastle. I spoke to him on Monday morning. I know where he is but I’m not sure whether I want to make it public, but I don’t think the situation is strange.
“We have allowed the players two days off. Most of the players returning from the national teams were due back today for training at 3pm. A couple of others, Clint Dempsey and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, were due back for training at 3pm tomorrow and we’ve allowed Ade to come back for Friday’s training session if he can’t make it for today’s, so everything is within our plans at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Younes Kaboul, who has not played all season because of a knee injury, should resume training with the first team on Monday.