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Real Madrid tried to ‘protect’ Cristiano Ronaldo during Gareth Bale transfer saga

Real Madrid wanted but failed to ‘protect’ Cristiano Ronaldo during negotiations to sign Gareth Bale in 2013, according to former Tottenham Hotspur’s former director of football administration Darren Eales.

Ronaldo signed for Los Blancos from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 for a then-world record fee of £85m, breaking the £56m sum the club had spent on Milan’s Kaka earlier in the same window.

This record stood for four years until Bale joined Real Madrid at the back-end of the summer 2013 window from Spurs for £85m.

Speaking to TalkSPORT, Eales – who was part of the negotiating team on Tottenham’s end at the time – revealed Real Madrid did not want the fee for Bale to exceed what they paid for Ronaldo.

“It was an interesting one. We were dealing with Real Madrid, who had Cristiano Ronaldo. And they wanted to get it so that Ronaldo was still the most expensive player and they were paying more, so there was a lot of negotiation about how they were going to spin it at their end because they were protecting Ronaldo,” Eales said.

“But we got there in the end – at that stage we just want to maximise the deal, obviously it was a world record transfer at the time that it took place.

“All of us during my time at Tottenham would have loved to keep Gareth but ultimately, he wanted to go on and have that opportunity and you couldn’t begrudge him really. He’s a great guy.”

UEFA Champions League"Juventus FC v Real Madrid"

Bale made history at Real Madrid / VI-Images/GettyImages

Ronaldo and Bale would form the famous ‘BBC’ attacking trident with Karim Benzema that would dominate Europe for the next half-decade, winning the Champions League four times and La Liga once in that period before the Portugal star joined Juventus in 2018.

Bale would stay at Real Madrid until 2022 before joining LAFC for the final chapter of his playing career, though he did return to Tottenham on loan for the 2020/21 season, scoring 16 goals in 34 appearances in a successful second spell.

Eales left Spurs in 2014 to become CEO of MLS side Atlanta United, while he has since taken up the same role at Newcastle United.


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