Gareth Bale to Real Madrid complete with record transfer fee

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LONDON — After the summer’s most drawn-out transfer saga, it’s finally official: Gareth Bale is a Real Madrid player.

Madrid announced Sunday that Bale had joined on a six-year contract, and a person familiar with the deal said the fee was a world-record 100 million euros ($132 million). The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details are not being disclosed.

“I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date,” Bale said in a statement published on the Tottenham website. “I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say, this is my dream come true.”

Bale will be paraded at Madrid’s stadium on Monday after undergoing a medical examination.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said earlier in the week that Bale’s move was set to be “the biggest transfer in world football,” and the fee eclipses the €93 million Madrid paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

Madrid, whose annual revenue reaches €500 million, previously broke the transfer record in 2009 when Kaka joined from AC Milan for 65 million euros ($92 million).

All three blockbuster deals came under Florentino Perez, the club president who built the “Galacticos” team that included David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Figo.

The move for Bale, who had around three years remaining on his Tottenham contract, caps a rapid rise from White Hart Lane misfit to one of European football’s most exciting players.

The 24-year-old Welsh winger has dazzled audiences around the world with swerving free kicks, defense-splitting surges and mesmerizing footwork.

But Bale was frustrated that Tottenham only qualified once for the Champions League, the stage where the world took notice of his talents for the first time in the 2010-11 season.

Now he’s joining a club that has won the European Cup nine times.

“I am well aware that I would not be at the level I am today were it not for firstly Southampton and then Spurs standing by me during some of the tougher times and affording me the environment and support they have,” Bale said. “Tottenham will always be in my heart and I’m sure that this season will be a successful one for them. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid.”

Bale has been signed by Madrid despite not winning a single title in his playing career.

What the Wales star has is a collection of personal honors — and long highlight reel of spectacular goals.

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