Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas has described Gareth Bale as "one of the top three or four players in Europe" as the Spanish giants continue their pursuit of the Tottenham winger.
Madrid have earmarked the 24-year-old Wales international as their major summer target although they have so far not persuaded Spurs to sell.
Madrid-based newspaper Marca's front page today suggested Spurs were holding out for a fee of 145 million euros (£126m), which would far exceed the world record £80m the club shelled out on Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
Whether president Florentino Perez is willing to go to those lengths remains to be seen but Casillas, speaking on the club's tour of the United States, said: "We are talking about one of the top three or four best players in Europe and it's normal that his name is being discussed because he has all the qualities a footballer needs.
"Every transfer is controversial in its own way, for better or worse, but we are speak...