On Friday, the Madrid paper’s front page announced that a €99 million deal to bring Bale from Tottenham had finally been completed. Inside, a report was headlined ‘Just needs a signature’ and claimed it was a “question of hours” before the Wales international put pen to paper on a six-year contract at the Bernabeu.
That deal will put him on more money than players including World Cup winners Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso, and established internationals such as Germany’s Mesut Ozil and France’s Karim Benzema.
Earlier this month, AS reported that Ozil and Benzema were unimpressed at being pushed down the salary scale at the club and claimed Ronaldo did not like the idea of Bale replacing him as the world's most expensive player.
Madrid have offered Ronaldo a new contract that would increase his earnings to €18 million a year after tax, although the Portugal captain and his agent Jorge Mendes have reportedly not yet responded to the offer.
Talk of the Bale deal, and the huge figures involved, surrounded Thursday’s Trofeo Bernabeu exhibition game, where the guest of honour was former Madrid great Raul Gonzalez, who played 45 minutes for Madrid and the other 45 for his current side, Qatari club Al Sadd.
While no Los Blancos figure was willing to go on the record about Bale, Raul joked about the size of the transfer when he spoke to AS in the mixed zone. “If the Bale thing is not done, I would cost much less,” the 36-year-old said, proposing in jest that he could return to play for Madrid.
The response to the deal in Catalonia has, unsurprisingly, been more sceptical. Mundo Deportivo asked its readers on Friday: “Is this man worth €109 million?”
The Barcelona-supporting paper took that headline from Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, to show that others in Europe are questioning why Madrid are prepared to pay so much, particularly in times of economic hardship.
Meanwhile Sport claimed Chelsea’s move to hijack Tottenham’s deal for Willian was a move by current Blues coach Jose Mourinho to ensure that his former team Madrid missed out on Bale.