Tottenham Hotspur are in talks to re-sign Wales forward Gareth Bale from Real Madrid, and are closing in on a deal for his team-mate Sergio Reguilon.
Bale, 31, left Spurs to join Real for a then world record £85m in 2013 and has since scored more than 100 goals and won four Champions League titles.
Both Bale and left-back Reguilon had been linked with Manchester United.
Spain international Reguilon, 23, came through the youth set-up at Real and made his first-team debut in October 2018.
United spoke to Real about him but were put off by the Spanish giants’ insistence on a buyback clause.
That has allowed Tottenham to step in, and the expectation is he will now join Jose Mourinho’s squad.
Where Bale is concerned, a loan looks likeliest at the moment, although a permanent transfer has not been ruled out with Real keen to recover costs as they look to offload their highest earner.
Bale’s salary is perhaps the biggest hurdle for Spurs to overcome – he still has two years left on a contract which is thought to be worth about £600,000 a week.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is working through the detail of the deal and how to make it work. Indications are Real would be willing to pay a proportion of Bale’s salary but even then he would be getting more than England and Tottenham captain Harry Kane.
Levy has previously spoken of the massive financial impact the pandemic has had on Spurs, who have to pay for their £1bn stadium, and at one point put non-playing staff on furlough, before reversing that decision two weeks later.
That has to be balanced against the enormous commercial potential of re-signing Bale.
United have long been linked with the Welshman, and he had been seen as a potential target should they fail to sign England international Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
Tottenham, however, have an emotional pull for a player they signed as a 17-year-old from Southampton and helped develop into one of the world’s best.
Bale was hugely successful in his first few seasons at Real, scoring in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals as well as the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
But his star has faded in the past couple of years after a run of injuries, indifferent form and a fractious relationship with manager Zinedine Zidane.
Bale started just one match when the 2019-20 La Liga season resumed, playing a mere 100 minutes as Real clinched a first title since 2017, and was conspicuously on the fringes of the team’s celebrations.