For as long as I can remember, Manchester United have been linked with the transfer of Gareth Bale to Old Trafford.
Before his world record move to Real Madrid, it was revealed that Manchester United reportedly offered to gazump the Spanish side to get a deal done but Bale was intent on going to Madrid. Every year since, with fans never really accepting Bale at the Bernabeu, the media have constantly looked at ways that a deal could eventually be done.
Bale had always remained non-committal about a departure, claiming he was happy in Madrid and it was a dream come true. That changed when Zinedine Zidane came in and dropped him from the squad, with Bale publicly claiming he wanted to leave following the UEFA Champions League final win over Liverpool where he scored two goals.
Instead, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane left the club and Bale was now in a position to be the man in Spain. However it was Karim Benzema who was given the role of talisman and Madrid fell apart, hiring and firing two different managers during that campaign before luring Zidane back to the club.
Since Zidane returned, Bale had a move to China cancelled as he was boarding a plane because owner Florentino Perez refused to let him go for free. Bale then saw himself way down the pecking order for the season, to the point where he asked not to travel for a Champions League last-16 tie against Man City because he knew he wouldn’t be playing.
After a string of injuries, unhappy seasons and clashes with fans Gareth Bale has decided his time is up. Recently with Wales he did an interview with Sky Sports where he claimed the reason he hasn’t left the club yet is simply because the club wouldn’t let him go.
Reports are now suggesting though that he is once again an option for Manchester United should the Red Devils be unable to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho. Madrid are reportedly willing to let Bale leave on loan or permanently and are even willing to part-pay his wages for the remainder of his Madrid contract to get him out of the door. Manchester United fans are not interested though.
The main reason is simple – he isn’t Jadon Sancho. Having been linked to the Dortmund winger for over a year a deal seems relatively easy to do. While a very expensive deal, Dortmund have been open with their price tag and are willing to do business if their asking price is met. Manchester United however have opted to play hard-ball over the figure and dragged it out into a saga. With just three weeks remaining of the window, the two clubs are no closer to an agreement.
Another reason is that Bale is now 31 years old and physically nowhere near what he once was. At his best, he was a physical specimen who was able to use pace and power to dominate opponents all over the pitch with his wand of a left foot making him lethal. Nowadays, Bale picks up muscular injuries like old people pick up newspapers and his reliance on those physical traits in his style of play mean it is unlikely the injuries just disappear.
Thirdly, Alexis Sanchez. After the saga that happened with the Chilean before and after his transfer it’s no wonder that the fans are wary of signing a big name player with big wages who relies on physical attributes and is of a certain age. The development of Mason Greenwood has been a huge boost recently so to bring in Bale as a stop-gap seems counter-productive. The signing of a top winger would be welcomed as competition and depth but with Bale there would absolutely be a feeling that he almost has to play games.
A loan deal may be slightly more accepted, with the idea that the club would then go back in for Sancho next year. The likelihood though is Sancho’s price won’t change in the next 12 months and all that does is invite competition for his signature. If he is really the No.1 target, the club should pay the fee and get him in. If he’s a success like the club clearly expect him to be, he will be worth every penny. If he flops, then he’s going to flop regardless of the fee. The outlay may be less but the pressure and expectancy won’t be and it would still be a significant hole in the pockets.
The reality of the situation is the club would be much better off with Jadon Sancho in the team and Gareth Bale’s potential arrival has a stench of desperation and panic about it.
Bale’s time to join Manchester United passed several years ago, it’s time to move on to new targets and secure them rather than letting history repeat itself and watching the one you want go elsewhere.