If you scan through daily English tabloids, at least once or twice a month, you’ll come across this sensational story of Manchester United lining up a record breaking summer move for Gareth Bale.
The rumour has been going on for a while. Initially what looked like a typical tabloid-fabrication without any iota of truth in it, has turned into a serious matter of consideration, as the hubbub intensifies day by day.
There was hardly any reason to give credence to such rumours. Why would Bale, who just got transferred to his ‘dream club’ for a world record fee, who scored in two important cup finals, be willing to jeopardise his career when everything worked/working smoothly for him?
Most importantly, why would Manchester United be willing to sign him when they already have a plethora of options in Bale’s position and reinforcement needed elsewhere? It defies all logic.
Bale himself has clarified the situation, claiming he is not only happy at Madrid but wants to win more trophies with the Los Blancos.
“Go to Manchester United? I am very happy in Madrid, a city, a climate and a club that I love,” he told Dubai TV.
“My contract ends in 2019 and I could sign a renewal. I am very happy at Madrid and I hope to win many more titles in the future.
“It has been a fantastic year for me. I wanted to come to Real Madrid to win titles and work alongside the best players and that is exactly what I have done in a single year. I hope that we keep improving, winning more titles and that I can keep giving my all.”
Then came the bombshell from the highly reputed Guillem Balague just before the last January transfer window that took the entire transfer saga to a new level.
Spanish newspaper AS claimed that United were ready to offer €153m for Gareth Bale, as Louis van Gaal had asked Manchester United board to put an effort to sign the Welshman.
Since then, two things have gone awkwardly wrong that has only added fuel to the fire. First, Bale’s sudden drop in form resulting in fans’ backlash. His car was attacked by angry fans after Real Madrid’s recent El Clasico defeat to Barcelona, while over 60% readers of AS wanted the Welshman to be transferred next summer.
Bale scored 15 goals in 27 La Liga matches last season, while this term he has managed 12 goals in 25 La Liga games so far. Performance wise, Madrid fans probably are expecting a better output from him taking into consideration the massive transfer fee the club paid at the first place, Bale hasn’t done badly either contrary the way he is often projected by the Spanish press.
Furthermore, Bale is probably a victim of Madrid’s obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo and the aura that goes with him.
Bale has been booed by the fans, even when he is playing well, which is more than enough to have a psychological impact on any foreign player. Last thing he needs is home fans turning against him.
He was under a lot of pressure having gone through a barren spell of nine matches without scoring. The Welshman finally returned back to form against Levante and silenced his critics by netting twice early this month.
In every other country, he would have grabbed the headlines the following day. Not in Madrid. Here the ruthless press is more concerned with Ronaldo being unhappy and why he didn’t celebrate with his team mates!
Bale’s claustrophobic situation at Madrid has coincided with Angel di Maria’s position at Manchester United leading to extra incentives for the press to frame a dangerous transfer rumour cocktail.
Di Maria left Madrid and joined Manchester United last summer for a British record transfer fee, however, after early promise, his form has dropped alarmingly.
There has been an attempted burglary at his home, while injuries and Van Gaal’s propensity to change his system and formation resulting him in being shifted out of position, has left him unsettled.
He has received widespread criticism after being shown red card against Arsenal, resulting in United’s exit from the FA Cup. His manager has reportedly berated him in the dressing room for his uninspiring performance against Liverpool at Anfield.
All these have had an impact and Di Maria is reportedly angling for a move away from Old Trafford, which means United have a chance to use the money from his potential sale to fund move for Gareth Bale in summer.
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes feels Bale would be ‘perfect’ for the Red Devils. Writing his column for The Independent, he feels, United could be the ones to benefit.
“My feeling is that he would be perfect for Manchester United.
“Of course, as a fan of my former club I would like to see him there but, looking at it objectively, I always felt that Bale was a natural fit for United as he developed at Tottenham from a left-back into one of the best attacking footballers in the country.
“He would be loved at Old Trafford. In return I believe he could turn Louis van Gaal’s team into serious title contenders next season. In my years at United I witnessed some signings who, over their careers, transformed the fortunes of the team.
“From Eric Cantona when I was an apprentice, to Dwight Yorke, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney. These were great footballers who became great United players. Bale has the potential to make as much of an impact as any of them.
“All good players need to be appreciated. Bale would be coming to United in a time of change when the team is looking for leaders. Madrid will always be in a state of upheaval, with new presidents and a fresh intake of players each summer.”
Bale and Di Maria are both different types. The Argentine is technically gifted and can play in multiple positions across the forward line. He is a natural dribbler and has an eye for creativity.
The Welshman on the other hand has developed into a world class winger having started as a left-wing back only few seasons ago. His is a case of progressing through sheer hard work than having blessed with wealth of talents. He has a blistering pace and is a proven match winner.
While he has this uncanny knack of scoring goals every now and then, Bale is tactically far behind from other top class attacking midfielders, including Di Maria.
The major issue here is finance. With due respect to other leagues, no other clubs in the world can afford to pay Bale’s transfer fee expect the Premier League heavy weights. Not even the French champions PSG, given the FFP troubles they have had.
Bale being British has a natural inclination to return back to the league that made him so popular. His direct approach could be a hindrance to van Gaal’s tactical demands but United can reap benefit from his vast Premier League experience.
Keeping aside the conjectures, it is still highly unlikely that United would go for him. With or without the Champions League, United still need to spend heavily next summer to bolster their squad on several fronts.
Bale is just like a shiny toy in the market, which United can do without at the moment. The immediate surgery is needed elsewhere. Having said that, there is always a room for world class players in any good side. Over to you Louis!