Real Madrid have dropped another hint that they expect Gareth Bale to join them this summer by leaving the club's number 11 shirt free for the Welshman should he arrive from Tottenham.

The number 11 shirt was worn by Ricardo Cavalho last season but he has since departed for French moneybags Monaco leaving the shirt vacant.

Real's recent arrivals have all been allocated their squad numbers with Spanish winger Isco handed the 23 shirt and Asier Illarramendi number 24.

The Bale saga has dragged on all summer and looks set to go to the wire with Tottenham said to be unhappy with Real Madrid's proposal to pay the fee for Bale in annual instalments spread over six years.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is demanding that the fee which is almost certain to top the £80m Real paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo be paid up front.

This has caused Real and their president Florentino Perez to wonder whether Bale is really worth the sum.

Bale is said to have grown increasingly frustrated at Spurs' unwillingness to sell and has so far kept silent about his prospective move.

Andre Villas-Boas has admitted that the club are in the dark over Bale's state of mind as his dream move to the Bernabeu hangs in the balance.