Six years after joining for a record £86m, Real Madrid are apparently looking to offload Gareth Bale this summer – despite resistance from the Welshman to depart his dream club.
Bale has enjoyed mixed success during his time in Spain. On the one hand, he has scored over 100 goals in the famous white strip, and was genuinely excellent in his early seasons. His solo effort against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final was memorably eye-catching, demonstrating the winger’s pace and power.
That season, Bale also scored the decisive goal that gave Real the lead against city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final, and followed that up in later seasons with further contributions in Europe’s most prestigious game – including a stunning overhead kick from the bench in 2018’s final versus Liverpool.
On the other hand, however, Bale has been a slight disappointment, given the lofty expectations. He has missed over 100 games through injury, failed to integrate properly into Spanish life, and been less productive than his contemporaries – the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah.
Now 30, Bale has turned down the chance to move to China on astronomical wages, suggesting he wants to remain playing football at the highest level. Despite injury concerns and huge wages, Bale nonetheless possesses star quality and the capability to win matches by himself. He is a risk to sign, but potentially a risk worth taking.
So, here are five clubs that Bale could turn the fortunes of…
Manchester United aren’t shy of spending huge sums on players, and in recent years they haven’t worked out so well. Angel Di Maria, Romelu Lukaku and Fred have underwhelmed at Old Trafford, although none more so than Alexis Sanchez, who reportedly earns around £400,000 a week.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils lack quality options in attack as things stand, with the right-wing spot next to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford noticeably vacant – who better than Bale to slot there and fire United back into the top four?
With talismanic wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben no longer at the club, Bayern Munich have been seeking at least one replacement. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are already competing for the spots, while Thomas Muller can play out wide too.
While Leroy Sane has been the primary target, the figures demanded by Manchester City are reportedly unrealistic. Robben excelled in the Bundesliga having arrived from Real Madrid, and Bale could certainly do the same.
While Daniel Levy is highly unlikely to sanction a move for an ageing and injury-blighted player, Bale could nonetheless be the missing piece in Mauricio Pochettino’s carefully constructed puzzle.
His Spurs side have been undeniably excellent for years yet remain trophy-less. With Christian Eriksen’s future uncertain, Bale as a replacement would go down well with a lot of Tottenham fans, who fondly remember his performances at the start of the decade.
With experienced trophy winner Antonio Conte now in charge, Inter are expected to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title – no mean feat, considering the last side to do so successfully were AC Milan back in 2011.
To push a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus to the brink, however, Inter will need more quality in attack. Conte can organise a defence as well as anybody, and with Bale providing magic in the final third, Inter can be hopeful.
Paris Saint-Germain’s need for Bale depends heavily on the future of Neymar, who has expressed his desire to leave the club this summer. Barcelona are reportedly keen but, having recently signed Antoine Griezmann, may not have the funds required.
Nevertheless, if the Brazilian was to re-join his former club – or even sign for Real in a swap deal – Bale would be a tasty compliment to the pairing of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.