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Gareth Bale’s future at Real Madrid has been one of the most speculated transfer stories in recent years. And with just weeks to go before the opening of the January transfer window, it may be a story that finally reaches a conclusion.
Overall, the 30-year-old winger can claim to have had an outstandingly successful time in Spain. Following his then world record move from Tottenham, Bale has played a pivotal role in helping Real Madrid win four UEFA Champions League trophies.
It’s a record equaling tally for a British player, matching Phil Neal’s haul of four European Cup victories for Liverpool between 1977 and 1984.
Yet Bale has endured several spells out through injury, and has not always been a regular starter even when fit.
Also, for several seasons he remained eclipsed by the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Last season, he did make 29 appearances in La Liga, but was substituted off the pitch on a considerable 15 occasions.
Bale was more impressive in his earlier seasons with Los Blancos. His first year in Spain, he scored 15 times and tallied 13 assists.
He has not played for Madrid in a month, and has not featured since being injured in Wales’ 1-1 draw with Croatia in a Euro 2020 qualifier. He is now in full training with Wales in preparation for their crucial qualifying matches with Azerbaijan and Hungary. Its an outcome that has raised eyebrows in Spain, over his sudden return to fitness.
Bale’s relationship with coach Zinedine Zidane has also been under a constant microscope. More so recently after the Frenchman made it clear that he wanted Bale out in the summer, being quoted as saying that Bale’s departure would be the “best for everyone.”
Zidane’s recent tone with Bale has been more conciliatory. He recently stated that the pair have a good relationship, and that the winger still wants to achieve things with the club.
The comments came after it was revealed in several reports that Bale has been in London recently meeting his agent Jonathan Barnett. The meeting prompted many theories, specifically that Bale was taking part in discussions over where his next journey in his career would take him.
Madrid could certainly use a player of Bale’s reputation as bait for swap deals. It has been suggested that exchange deals have been discussed for Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling.
There are many possible destination for Bale, if as is anticipated he will move from the Bernabeu. Yet due to his age and recent injury record, plus his colossal reported salary of around £600,000 per week, many clubs would think again about signing the winger.
Bale appeared to be on the verge of a move to the Far East last summer, with a move to Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning. Madrid pulled out at the last minute, as they wanted a fee for a player which cost them £86 million. The Nanjing-based side believed that paying Bale a reported £1 million a week should have been enough to pry the Welshman away from Spain.
In Chinese law, any Super League team has to pay a tax matching that of any transfer fee for an overseas player. This could make any package for Bale prohibitive for many reasons, including his injury history and age.
Yet his signing would still be a massive coup for a Chinese Super League team, and there may be more offers if Madrid reduce their transfer demands.
Reports suggest that Jiangsu Suning are still interested in Bale, but a move to China has also been rubbished by Bale’s agent.
A return to playing in the Premier League would appear unlikely for Bale.
It would be very surprising (and highly unlikely) if Manchester City and Pep Guardiola would sanction any kind of swap deal for Raheem Sterling. City hardly need to sell players in their financial position.
While Manchester United’s transfer policy under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has been about buying progressively and investing in youth. Bale has been frequently linked to the Red Devils. While he could be useful, it feels the time has passed for the Welshman to land at Old Trafford.
Jurgen Klopp has always favoured creating and building a team, and improving players, rather than parachuting in ready made world stars. It would appear that Bale would simply not fit into Klopp’s vision at Liverpool. The tempo that Klopp demands, perhaps would be a big ask for someone in the latter part of his career, who has been playing in a slower paced league.
Bale’s salary demand would almost certainly rule out Arsenal. Especially so as the Gunners have already been stung by the £350,000 per week contract awarded to Mesut Ozil.
So would leave a return to Tottenham be the only feasible destination in the EPL left?
Like their north London rivals, Bale’s wage demands would be extremely high to a relatively parsimonious club like Tottenham in the salary stakes. Yet he could be a ready made replacement for the outgoing Christian Eriksen.
So far, Spurs have struggled to put a consistent run of results together this season. Mauricio Pochettino could well do with a catalyst to ensure that results are back on the right track. But turning to Bale seems improbable, with signings for the long term future surely to be more appealing.
Paris Saint Germain (PSG) are many bookmakers’ favourites to be Bale’s next club.
If Neymar can be offloaded, it’s a move that becomes more plausible as the Brazilian’s own huge salary is off the Parisians’ books. According to Forbes, Neymar signed a five year contract two years ago worth $350 million, following his world record move from Barcelona. And the PSG sporting director Leonardo said that the Brazilian could leave when he failed to turn up to preseason training last summer.
Bale could be a like-for-like replacement for Neymar on the left flank.
Bayern Munich were also touted as potential buyers for the winger last summer after Arjen Robben retired and Franck Ribery left for Fiorentina. The Bavarians instead opted for loan deals for Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho.
If permanent deals cannot be agreed or not desired in the longer term, then Bale might fit the bill for a stint in the Bundesliga, potentially in another loan deal.
Gareth Bale would be a headline grabber in MLS and worthy Zlatan replacement. He’d be the best player in MLS by a long ways the minute he arrives. The MLS schedule and competition isn’t the same grind as in Europe. Bale could benefit from the pace of play and scheduling.
However, Bale’s wages again become an issue, especially for a league not as rich as its European counterparts.
The following are odds culled from a number of sites for Gareth Bale’s next club. While PSG understandably lead the way, a case could be made for Bale being a good value play at Manchester United or Tottenham at those prices.
|Any Chinese Super League Club||+300|