Gareth Bale looks unlikely to move to Barcelona this summer, with the European champions unwilling to pay more than €20m (£16.5m) for the Tottenham winger.
Pep Guardiola has long admired the Wales star and is keen to bring him to the Nou Camp. But the Catalan club are refusing to break the bank and won’t offer anywhere near the £40m Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would want for the 22-year-old.
Barcelona have therefore lined up a £10.5m deal for Valencia winger Jordi Alba as back-up. Alba can also play at left back or in midfield and has been one of the leading lights in La Liga this season and is a certainty to be in the Spain squad for Euro 2012.
AC Milan are also monitoring Bale, who will probably be happy to stay at White Hart Lane for one more season — providing the club do not lose other top players in the summer.
That is looking less likely after Saturday’s defeat at QPR, a result which has left Spurs outside the Champions League places, having taken nine points from the last 30.
And manager Harry Redknapp admits a lack of depth in his squad is beginning to take its toll. ‘We haven’t got the biggest squad,’ said Redknapp.
‘Chelsea made eight changes to play Arsenal and still looked good. I only had one striker and two centre halves — Ledley King and William Gallas — and if one of those got injured I was bang in trouble and would have had to use Bongani Khumalo, who has been on loan at Reading this season and didn’t get in their side. We were desperate. I had five central defenders and now I have only two. I have lost Dawson, Kaboul and Nelsen.’
Rangers’ fourth home win on the spin gives them more hope that they can avoid relegation. They won despite having Adel Taarabt sent off in the closing stages, something that did not register with captain Shaun Derry.
‘The funniest thing was at the end of the game Shaun didn’t even realise we were down to 10 men,’ said defender Nedum Onuoha. ‘There was just a real look of shock on his face when someone said that Adel got sent off. To think that is remarkable, really, isn’t it?
‘I just thought: “Wow, I don’t know what planet he’s been living on to think it was 11 versus 11”.