Real Madrid and Manchester United may have been dealt a blow in the race to sign Tottenham star Gareth Bale. The in-demand Welsh international is believed to be close to signing a lucrative new contract at White Hart Lane, which will keep the 23-year-old winger in north London till 2017.
The Mirror believes the new offer will see Bale paid a staggering £170,000 per week, amid extremely strong interest from the Santiago Bernabeu and rumours of a bid from the David Moyes-led era at Old Trafford.
Spurs' chairman, Daniel Levy, is reportedly confident Bale will agree to the new deal and expects it will act as a deterrent to Madrid and United. The winger's present contract expires in 2016.
Bale has admitted to a desire to play on the continent and his impressive form this season - 20 goals and four assists in 33 Premier League appearances - guaranteed him the interest and potential opportunity to fulfil that desire.
Madrid have been strongly linked with a move for the Welshman, with the Spanish club's former president, Ramon Calderon, being quoted as warning Spurs even a potential price tag of £60m would be no problem. And United have been linked with Bale as well, with reports Moyes wants to make him his first big-name signing for next season.
Keep Bale, David Villa to Follow
Meanwhile, if Bale remains in north London, the Welshman will definitely boost Spurs' appeal to other top players. Andre Villas-Boas' men will be hard-pressed to qualify for the Champions League next season; they need to beat Sunderland at home and hope Newcastle United can upset their north London rivals, Arsenal, at St James' Park.
And if they fail to qualify for European club football's biggest prize, then any hope of signing star names like Barcelona striker David Villa will be hit. The 31-year-old Spain international may still arrive in the summer but Bale's presence may be crucial in convincing younger targets that have also attracted attention from top four clubs.
Sir Alex Ferguson Confirms Lindegaard Start on Sunday
Meanwhile, present United manager Ferguson has confirmed his second-choice goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard, will start on Sunday. Ferguson takes the Red Devils to West Brom on the weekend, in his final game in charge of the club.
"I don't have any injury problems. I'll make a few changes, I think one or two young players should play. At the time we realised we won the league, I said to Anders, because at that time I thought you needed 10 appearances to get a medal, 'You will definitely play two games to get your medals', but that's changed but I still stand by my word and he will be in goal," Ferguson said.