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REAL MADRID

Gareth Bale set for Real unveiling in ‘record’ deal

Gareth Bale will be unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Monday after his prolonged transfer from Tottenham Hotspur was finally completed for an unconfirmed world record fee late on Sunday.

Gareth Bale set for Real unveiling in 'record' deal
Photo: Ian Kingston/AFP

The Welshman has agreed a six-year deal believed to be worth €10 million  net a year and will be presented to the media and the club's fans after undergoing a medical in the Spanish capital.

Widespread reports in England have suggested that the move will make Bale the world's most expensive player with Real set to pay €101 million ($133.5 million, £86 million) for his services.

However, media in Spain insisted that Real will only pay €91 million, three million less than Los Blancos paid for Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009.

"I would like to thank everyone at the Club, the Chairman, Board, staff, coaches and players – and most of all the fantastic fans who I hope will understand this amazing career opportunity," Bale said in a statement on the Spurs website.

"I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date. I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say, this is my dream come true.

"Tottenham will always be in my heart and I'm sure that this season will be a successful one for them. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid."

Bale was coveted by the Spanish giants following a series of amazing performances for Tottenham last season that landed him both the Premier League players and football writers' player of the year.

He scored 21 goals in 33 Premier League appearances, but his efforts still weren't enough to lift Spurs into the Champions League as they were edged out of fourth place by just one point by North London rivals Arsenal.

And the chance to not only play with some of the best players in the world, but also in Europe's premier club competition was a significant factor as the 24-year-old made his desire to move to Madrid clear.

Bale was criticised by Spurs' coach Andre Villas-Boas on Wednesday after he refused to attend training last week in a bid to force the move through and chairman Daniel Levy admitted the player's wishes had played a crucial role.

"Gareth was a player we had absolutely no intention of selling as we look to build for the future. He is a player whose career we have fostered and developed and he was only a year into his new four-year contract," he said.

"Such has been the attention from Real Madrid and so great is Gareth's desire to join them, that we have taken the view that the player will not be sufficiently committed to our campaign in the current season."

As a result of his rebellion Bale hasn't played at all since Spurs' pre-season friendly against Swindon Town on July 16 as he first complained of a gluteal injury and then a foot problem which kept him out of the English side's impressive start to their league campaign.

However, he has still been called up by Chris Coleman for Wales' upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Serbia.

The move could also spark a flurry of transfer deadline day departures from the Bernabeu with Kaka set to re-join AC Milan on a free transfer.

The Brazilian has long been surplus to requirements given the wealth of attacking midfield options on offer to coach Carlo Ancelotti and the former World Player of the Year is desperate to secure first-team football ahead of the World Cup in his homeland next year.

And Mesut Ozil could also be sold to recoup some of the funds spent on Bale with Arsenal said to be strongly interested in the €45 million rated German international.

Ozil insisted he was ready to stay and fight for his place in the side following the arrival of Isco and now Bale last week, but he was surprisingly left on the bench by Ancelotti for Sunday's 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

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FOOTBALL

Black Lives Matter: Marcelo ‘takes the knee’ to celebrate Real Madrid win

Marcelo celebrated by taking a knee as Real Madrid returned from three months away following the coronavirus suspension by beating Eibar 3-1 on Sunday.

Black Lives Matter: Marcelo 'takes the knee' to celebrate Real Madrid win
Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo kneels on the field to celebrate his goal. Photo: AFP

After scoring Madrid's third goal in the 37th minute, Marcelo dropped onto his left knee and raised his clinched right fist into the air, apparently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Madrid's win may have come at a cost as Eden Hazard and Sergio Ramos were both substituted early in the second half and were seen with ice packs strapped to them while sitting in the stands.

Hazard was making his first start since February and his ice pack appeared to be around his troublesome right ankle, which he injured in November and February, before undergoing surgery in March.

“We knew Eden would lack a bit of rhythm playing the whole game,” coach Zinedine Zidane said.

“He played well for an hour, he took a knock which was a scare but at half-time he said he was fine. He is happy with what he has done and we are happy with him.”

Madrid's win means they reduce the gap behind league leaders Barcelona back to two points after the Catalans thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday.    

Madrid struck in the fourth minute after a superb strike from Toni Kroos before Ramos tucked away Hazard's pass on the counter-attack.    

Eibar pulled one back in the second half through Pedro Bigas but never found the second to make Madrid nervous, despite a brief spell of pressure.    

Before going off, Hazard was busy, the Belgian involved in all three goals.    

His weaving run through midfield led to Kroos' shot and it was his effort that was cleared out to Marcelo, who drove into the corner.    

After a miserable opening season in Spain, it was a bright start for Hazard, who could now redeem himself by playing a crucial role in the run-in, if he can stay injury-free.

Perhaps even more impressive though was Karim Benzema, who linked up brilliantly with Hazard and was unfortunate not to get the goal an excellent all-round performance deserved.

Gareth Bale started on the bench but came on and could start against Valencia on Thursday.

Zidane is likely to rotate heavily over the next few weeks, with the games coming thick and fast.

New surroundings

Madrid's coach will also have been pleased to get off to a positive start in their new training ground home, which was the 100th different stadium to be used in La Liga.

They will be playing all their remaining home matches at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium to allow renovation work at the Santiago Bernabeu to continue this summer.

“We know the situation, it's all a bit strange,” said Zidane. “But the players are all champions and we have to get our heads around it.”    

Barca had needed less than two minutes to score against Mallorca and Madrid were only slightly later, as Hazard broke through Eibar's midfield and Casemiro set Benzema free.

The ball was cleared to Kroos on the edge of the area, who struck first time, sidefooting perfectly into the far top right-hand corner.   

Ramos doubled their advantage after starting, and finishing, a ruthless counter-attack. In between, Benzema and Hazard were involved again, the former picking out the latter, who generously gave Ramos an open goal.

Marcelo put Eibar all but out of sight before half-time as Benzema played through for Hazard and his shot spilled out to Marcelo to lash into the corner.

Eibar were better after the break as Edu Exposito forced a full-stretch save from Thibaut Courtois and then Sergi Enrich headed against the crossbar. 

Bigas did score after diverting in Pedro Leon's shot but Madrid held on.    

Earlier, Diego Costa scored his first goal since October but Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move into La Liga's top four by drawing 1-1 away at Athletic Bilbao.

Costa celebrated by holding up the shirt of Virgina Torrecilla, a player from Atletico's women's team, who underwent surgery on a brain tumour last month.

His equaliser came two minutes after the excellent Iker Muniain had given Bilbao the lead towards the end of the first half and neither side could find a winner at the empty San Mames, with Atletico defender Santiago Arias missing the best chance late on.

Diego Simeone's side stay sixth, level on points with Getafe and one behind Real Sociedad, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Osasuna.

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