Gareth BaleÔÇÖs dream move to Real Madrid was being delayed on Tuesday night by a transfer chain, with FiorentinaÔÇÖs Adem Ljajic emerging as the unlikely key to the world-record ┬ú90million deal.
Tottenham Hotspur do not want to sell Bale until they have recruited a replacement and are closing on a club-record ┬ú30million deal for RomaÔÇÖs Erik Lamela.
Roma, however, will not sign off the Lamela transfer until they have in turn bought Serbia international Ljajic from Fiorentina.
Bale missed training at TottenhamÔÇÖs Enfield base on Tuesday and, although head coach Andre Villas-Boas had previously said that he expected him to report, the club are said to be relaxed about the situation.
Villas-Boas and Bale have been in contact and there is no question of the Wales international being fined for his failure to attend. He was granted leave over the Bank Holiday weekend and has returned from a brief holiday in Malaga.
Tottenham have been irritated, however, by Real’s tactics throughout the summer and they are clearly in no rush to complete the deal.
There is also a theory that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will delay BaleÔÇÖs departure until at least Friday to ensure that Arsenal cannot sign either Angel diÔÇëÔÇëMar├¡a or Mesut ├ûzil from Madrid before the north London derby on Sunday. Madrid will not sell either player until they have completed the Bale transfer.
Bale remains optimistic that the deal will be finalised by the weekend, although Tottenham will not have the timetable dictated to them. It is understood that there are also still continuing discussions over the final schedule of payments.
Madrid had erected scaffolding at the Santiago Bernab├®u stadium in preparation for an expected unveiling on Tuesday and even began advertising ÔÇ£Bale NoÔÇë11″ shirts on the clubÔÇÖs website.
A straight cash deal was agreed in principle between Tottenham and Madrid at a meeting last Wednesday between Real president Florentino P├®rez, Levy, Spurs technical director Franco Baldini and BaleÔÇÖs agent Jonathan Barnett.
The timetable was delayed by TottenhamÔÇÖs failure to sign Willian, who is instead joining Chelsea, but they now have a deal in place for Lamela. The Argentina winger was an unused substitute for RomaÔÇÖs 2-0 opening-day victory against Liverno but he did train in Italy yesterday.
Spurs have also reached agreement on an ┬ú8million deal to buy central defender Vlad Chiriches from Steaua Bucharest.