Gareth Bale has been tipped to make Real Madrid honour the final year of his enormous contract next season, even if he leaves the club during the summer transfer window.
Bale is thought to earn as much as £600,000 (€700,000) per week from the long-term deal he signed in 2016, which means that the final year could be worth around £31m (€36m).
As things stand, Real are topping up his contract by paying half his salary while he is on loan at former club Tottenham. But with no clubs willing to offer that much, Bale will find it impossible to earn a similar amount anywhere else.
According to the Daily Mirror, the 31-year-old will refuse a pay cut. That would mean Real still heavily subsiding Bale’s wages should he spend another season out on loan – potentially a second term at Spurs – or would need to offer a sizeable pay-off to get him to leave on a permanent deal.
Should Bale, who has four goals and two assists in his last four Spurs appearances, not secure another loan or permanent transfer, it could result in him returning to Madrid next season. But having long since fallen out of favour with Zinedine Zidane, his prospects of playing before eventually leaving as a free agent in the summer of 2022 would be slim at best.
Bale had endured a difficult start to his Spurs ‘homecoming’. His start against Burnley last weekend, which saw him score a brace in a 4-0 win, was only his third in the Premier League all season.
Niggling injuries and fitness problems have kept the Wales international sidelined and he has often failed to make it off the bench. But if can stay fit and replicate the kind of form from the past couple of weeks, he would be a tremendous asset for Spurs this season and next.
His stance could be a major blow for Real Madrid, however. Los Blancos are determined to land Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, but their plan hinges on being able to raise cash through player sales and create space on the wage bill.
For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!