LONDON // Gareth Bale is close to sealing a world-record move to Real Madrid – but he looks likely to leave Tottenham Hotspur with a hefty fine after angering the manager Andre Villas-Boas with his conduct in the past few days.
After two frantic months of speculation, negotiation and gossip, Villas-Boas confirmed on Wednesday that Tottenham and Real Madrid are nearing agreement over Bale's world-record €100 million (Dh489m) transfer to Spain.
The Tottenham manager said the transfer could happen "very, very soon" and it also emerged that Bale bade farewell to his teammates last Friday.
Tottenham have already spent much of the money they are expected to receive for Bale. Four signings have already arrived and there could be several more new faces in the squad by the time the transfer window shuts on Monday night.
Tottenham on Wednesday night confirmed they have agreed a £25.8m fee with Roma for the Argentine forward Erik Lamela and are in talks with Ajax over the potential signing of the midfielder Christian Eriksen. The defender Vlad Chiriches is expected to complete his move to Spurs from Steaua Bucharest by the time they face Arsenal on Sunday, but Villas-Boas says there is no chance of Spurs signing the Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata.
"Chelsea wouldn't sell to Tottenham in any way or form, as they think that we are title contenders," Villas-Boas added.
Spurs and Bale both wanted the transfer to happen without any acrimony, but they failed to achieve that goal.
Villas-Boas often spoke of his strong relationship with Bale last season, but that personal bond has broken down. Villas-Boas has remained calm throughout the saga, but on Wednesday he made no secret that he has tired of Bale's conduct.
Villas-Boas is unhappy Bale has not turned up to training for the past two days. He believes the Welshman chose to do so in order to try to push through his move to Spain and it appears he thinks Bale should now be hit with a fine.
"The fact that he hasn't turned up, I don't think it's the correct behaviour," the Tottenham manager told a press conference that was called to preview the club's Europa League game against Dinamo Tbilisi on Thursday night, in which Spurs are all but guaranteed a place in the group stages after winning the first leg 5-0.
"It's a position of pressure and a statement from the player," he added. "It's a position they chose to take. It's up to the club now to decide if it's a fine-able offence.
"It's up to the club to decide whether or not it's a breach of club rules. I've given my opinion on it, it's up to them to decide whether they act on it or not.
"It is a dream move for him but I think in the end this could have happened in a different way."
The rules of the United Kingdom's Professional Footballers' Association state a player can be fined two weeks' wages, so Bale could be hit with a bill in excess of £160,000 for his two no-shows.
The Tottenham hierarchy will discuss whether to hit the player with the sanction in the coming days. By the time that fine lands on Bale's doorstep, he looks likely to be in Madrid, however.
Villas-Boas has refused to reveal much about Tottenham's dealings with Madrid throughout the summer, but on Wednesday he was more forthcoming.
"The two clubs are speaking - Tottenham and Real Madrid - to outline the final decisions or statements of contracts," he said. "I am not sure how much time it will take. It could happen very, very soon. But it might not happen so soon, so I suppose it could go to the last days or it could happen in the next two days.
"There will be a three-way agreement for the player to go and Tottenham will accept most likely the biggest transfer in world football. Then it will be the end of story."
Villas-Boas usually cuts a diplomatic figure when speaking to the media, but on Wednesday it was clear he cannot wait for the Bale saga to end.
The Portuguese, who has fielded questions on Bale for months, even seemed to aim a sideswipe at the chairman Daniel Levy over his failure to speak publicly about the transfer. Villas-Boas's frustration was clear when he was asked to confirm whether other clubs had bid for Bale, as had been reported this week.
Villas-Boas said: "It's not up to me to confirm that … I'm not sure if … the chairman will be [in] the ideal position. Obviously, he doesn't sit in this chair to speak to you very often, or never."
Bale was on Wednesday called up into the Wales squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Macedonia and Serbia next week.
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