Tottenham director Sir Keith Mills has admitted that keeping Gareth Bale at the club amid interest from Real Madrid is “very difficult”.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, Mills trots out the usual line that "we very much want Bale to stay", however he goes on to admit that the Welshman can't be forced to remain at White Hart Lane.
Spurs and Real Madrid are in talks over a deal which is expected to break the current transfer record of £80m that the Spanish club paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
The deal is expected to go through after the player expressed a desire to move to the Bernabeu - and it is that element that Mills admits takes a move out of Spurs' control.
“If a player is desperate to leave, it’s very difficult to force him to stay," he said. "We’ve seen it in other clubs. Even if he has a contract, you can’t force somebody to play for you.”
Mills agrees Tottenham are in a Catch-22. If they’re not in the Champions League, Bale may not stay. But, to get into the Champions League, they need players like Bale.
“That’s precisely the issue,” he says. “So this summer, we are investing in a great squad and we hope that provides us with Champions League football next year and we start to win trophies, FA Cups. That’s what Tottenham need. We have made some good acquisitions.”
Spurs have spent heavily this summer, bringing in Brazilian midfielder Paulinho for £17m, Spanish international Roberto Soldado for £26m and Nacer Chadli for £7m as the look to clinch a top-four finish in the upcoming season.
In the interview with the Evening Standard, Mills also revealed "there are others in the pipeline” and claims there is a focus on bolstering the attacking options at White Hart Lane - something that will be neccessary if Bale, who scored 26 in all competitions last season, leaves the club.
“Strikers are very high on AVB’s list of priorities and Daniel [Levy, the chairman] is trying hard to make sure we have strength up front. It’s a really exciting time to be at the club.”
For the full interview in the Evening Standard, click here.