The saga over the transfer of Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale to Real Madrid seems, at last, close to reaching its conclusion . It appears the end Welshman will play his football at the Bernabeu after becoming the most expensive player in football history .
However, the party most upset and angry with the deal is not the Tottenham fans, who see for the second consecutive season one of their best players head to Madrid, but Southampton, who look like they have missed out on a huge windfall.
The origin of this story is in the summer of 2007 . Spurs secured the signing of Bale, who was at the time a promising 17-year-old, from Southampton . The north London side had been keen on Bale for a while, having tried to finalise a deal from him in the previous January transfer window. But the Saints would not agree because they didn’t want to let go of their promising jewel in their crown.
The agreement reached in the summer of 2007 saw Spurs pay an initial £5 million (5.85 million euros), plus a number of appearance and target based bonuses that would see the deal increase by an additional £5 million. As well as this , Southampton, aware of the potential of Bale, and like it did when Theo Walcott transferred to Arsenal in 2006 , included a percentage in case of a future sale of Bale.
According to media sources, this percentage was between 15% and 25% , depending on who you believe. However, Southampton were experiencing ever-worsening financial problems, and in 2008, just a year selling Bale, agreed with Tottenham to sell their percentage for a future sale of the winger to the north London side.
Spurs allowed the Saints to sign goalkeeper Tommy Forecast, valued at around £1.5 million (1.75 million euros), for free in exchange for giving up the sell-on clause for Bale.
The business could not have gone worse. Forecast never played any official match for Southampton and was loaned to various lower league clubs until he left.
Meanwhile, had Southampton managed to keep the sell-on clause intact, they would have received between 15 and 25 million euros for Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid. An amount that would have served to repay , among others , the signing of striker Osvaldo, who they just signed from Roma.