If you thought that talk of Gareth Bale to Manchester United had ended with James Rodriguez’ transfer to Bayern Munich, or his agent rubbishing the claims just one week ago, you’d be sadly mistaken.
Cards on the table, we love Gareth Bale here at UIF. The good of Gareth Bale to United is a prospect that has us not literally salivating. He is British, powerful, direct, and when on form, is one of the very few players in the world who can genuinely get you off your seat. Unfortunately the bad has us not literally squirming.
First and foremost, does it look as if Madrid will sell him? The Neymar deal could have huge ramifications on the transfer market with two major names being linked with a move to Spain to replace the Brazilian, those being Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe. The latter looks the more likely as he is this summer’s hot property and before the Neymar deal blew everyone out of the water with the speed it happened, can you remember that Mbappe was making eyes water (again, not literally, and not by himself too) by having his name attached to a mind-boggling £150m transfer fee. Here’s the thing.
If Monaco want that sum, there is one club who clearly have the cash to pay it. Barcelona’s Més que un club motto may be a little misleading considering the way they signed Neymar in the first place but whilst they clearly have their own reputation, whatever that may be, Real Madrid have theirs, which is to break records and sign big names. Real would hate to be gazumped at the post to a player they have openly coveted, particularly if the gazumper (?) is Barcelona.
Which is where Bale comes in. Bale may be a favourite of the President but Real is a club selective with its loyalty and ruthless with the way it will get rid of a player. They can’t afford to cash in on Ronaldo — that saga’s over for another year — and no player other than Bale is likely to generate the sort of transfer fee which will help a) fund a move for Mbappe and b) free a place in the attacking line-up for him. For that reason it makes less sense for them to try and sell Karim Benzema, for example.
So on that end it makes sense if Madrid decide to cash in on Bale.
There will be no shortage of takers for the three-time Champions League winning 28 year old (he turned 28 a few days ago, so he’s more 28 than 29, right?) and he comfortably fits the bill as a marquee name; should he move, it would be a similar level of transfer profile to that of Neymar.
Naturally United have been linked to him and again it makes sense, and is enough to excite most. After all, Ivan Perisic’s transfer has stalled, and that means there is an area in the team which needs strengthening, and in that event, why not get the best player available to fill that role? Ed Woodward’s 4 year pursuit would finally have the reward which would justify that time he went missing coming back from Australia, and surely the most difficult negotiation in completing the transfer would be convincing Bale to wear 7 or another awkward conversation with Anthony Martial.
There are sources claiming United are poised to bid £90m, and the Express (we know) even say we might try and go in with a lower offer! HAPPY DAYS! Only one problem – Bale has had calf injuries and last season suffered an ankle tendons problem which kept him out for months. Consequently, over the last two years, Bale has completed the equivalent of one full league season, and the last time United paid over the odds for a British player based overseas with a history of injury problems, we ended up getting little more than half a season out of Owen Hargreaves, and then released him at the end of his contract.
That’s not to say history is doomed to repeat itself and maybe the merchandising boost which will accompany the sale will make Bale more like a £45m risk; maybe we’re getting old, and it is somebody else’s money, but that still seems like a big gamble to us. A fit Gareth Bale? It’s arguably the best transfer United could make to round off an exceptional transfer window.
Compared to yesterday, we are much more on the fence with a) how we feel about this transfer and b) if we believe United would actually make such a move; it is now much more within the realms of possibility than it was. Push us and ask if we think it will happen, and we say no. But, as Cristiano Ronaldo famously says, ‘Only God knows’!