Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has claimed it's 'no secret' he tried to sign winger Gareth Bale during his time at Real Madrid, but was keen not to discuss the matter further as Spurs look to conclude a deal for the Welshman.
The 31-year-old departed north London for Madrid back in 2013 in what was then a world-record £85m deal. But seven years on from his departure, Bale is now closing in on a return to his former club after falling completely out of favour with Real boss Zinedine Zidane.
The Wales international had attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United this summer as they continue to draw up a list of Jadon Sancho alternatives. But 90min recently learned that Spurs were leading six other Premier League sides in the race to secure his signature on loan. Talks have since progressed and they are now close to reaching an agreement with Real.
Mourinho has now spoken out on the potential return of Bale this summer, admitting that he was very keen to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu when he was Real Madrid manager. As it turned out, however, the club secured his services just months after his departure in the summer of 2013.
"I tried to sign him [Bale] for Real Madrid which was not possible to do during my time there," Mourinho said during his press conference on Wednesday. "But the president followed my instinct and my knowledge and the season I left he brought Gareth to the club.
"There is no secret on that. Even Gareth knows that. But I'm not going to speak about him anymore because he is a Real Madrid player."
After seven years, Mourinho could soon get his man. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is also keen to make the move happen, but one of the main obstacles regarding a move to any club for Bale has always been his wages - and Levy will be keen to strike a deal that makes financial sense.
While Bale is edging closer to a move back to north London, Man Utd are not expected to make a late attempt to hijack the deal. Elsewhere, Tottenham are also confident they will be able to finalise a deal for another Real Madrid player as well in Sergio Reguilon.