EXCLUSIVE| By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza

Real Madrid regard Gareth Bale as Cristiano Ronaldo’s successor as the talisman and star player of the team, Football Insider sources understand.

The Spanish giants will resist all attempts from rival clubs to buy the world’s most expensive player as he enters his peak years.

Manchester United abandoned their £120million pursuit of the 26-year-old in the summer after being informed that the Spanish giants had no intention of cashing in on their record signing.

Real chiefs believe Bale has the individual quality and matchwinning potential to eventually succeed Ronaldo as the club’s standout player.

The Spaniards recognise that the reigning Fifa World Player of the Year turns 31 in February and his long-term ability to continue his maintain his goalscoring feats is limited.

They believe Bale, who has started his third season at the Bernabeu in fine form, can eventually step into Ronaldo’s shoes as the heart and soul of the team.

Football Insider has learned that United made the astonishing £120million bid for Bale earlier in the transfer window after Louis van Gaal identified him as a player who could electrify Old Trafford.

But Real do not want to sell the Wales international even though the offer is £34million more than the sum that smashed the world transfer record when he was bought from Tottenham two years ago. Furthermore, Bale did not intend to push for a transfer.

Real signed Bale for £86million in the summer of 2013 and he responded with an outstanding debut season in the capital, culminating in him scoring in the Champions League final.

Bale’s second campaign was less successful and his form came under huge scrutiny from both supporters and the Spanish media in the final months of 2014-15.

But the Welshman wants to remain at the Bernabeu and prove himself at arguably Europe’s most demanding club.

The attacking midfielder has four years remaining on the six-year contract he signed in 2013 and Real continue to regard the 26-year-old as a key figure in their plans.