Gareth Bale latest: 'I don't see him leaving for Manchester United, but he has to step up', says former Real Madrid winger Steve McManaman

EXCLUSIVE: McManaman says Gareth Bale needs to play the kind of supporting role Neymar and Luis Suarez play at Barcelona

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The Independent Online

As only one of five British players to ever suit up in the white of Real Madrid, Steve McManaman knows better than most what Gareth Bale is going through at the moment.

Bale, 25, is under intense pressure at the moment from supporters in Spain and has been booed mercilessly the last couple of months after struggling through dreadful form.

He has continually been linked with a move back to England – with Manchester United and Chelsea keen on the Welshman – and was terrible in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final with Juventus, managing just 27 touches and one shot that went way off target.

 

But McManaman, who played 158 times for Los Blancos and won two league titles and two Champions League trophies, including scoring in the 2000 Final, does not believe Bale will leave the club this summer, but admitted he needs to improve quickly to win over the supporters.

“I see him staying there to be honest, but he needs to perform better than he has been doing,” McManaman tells The Independent.

“The last couple of months have been disappointing and Madrid have been disappointed. We’re not talking about someone who cost £5million, we’re talking about someone who is the most expensive player in the world, the pressure goes with you.

“They need him to step up in this last month or so and play like the player he was last year.”

McManaman also pointed to the kind of performances Barcelona get from Neymar and Luis Suarez as something that Bale should look to. Whilst Lionel Messi is clearly the star man at Barcelona, like Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, the supporting cast are having superb seasons in secondary roles.

“We all know that Cristiano is the top man, likewise Lionel Messi is the top man at Barcelona, but at Barca you have Neymar and Suarez really stepping up to the plate.

“The fact that Gareth is not stepping up to the plate at the minute, and [Karim] Benzema is injured, its heightened it even more. They need him to quickly follow Cristiano and play as well as him.

“If he plays well against Juventus, he scores and they go through to the final then it’ll be forgiven.”

McManaman also said that in the UK we should offer more support to players plying their trade abroad.

“We’re a bit like that in England, when we see someone playing not as well as expected we all think the magic thing is just to bring him back home, but we should be supporting him.”

Real Madrid take on Juventus in the Bernabeu in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, trailing 2-1 after a poor performance in Turin.

Steve-McManaman.jpg
McManaman is one of five Britons to play for Real Madrid

McManaman is confident his former club can overturn the deficit and reach the final.

“I think they’ll go through to be honest and face Barcelona in the final,” he added. “I think last week’s performance against was disappointing enough, the second goal was poor, the way [Dani] Carvajal brings him down is ridiculous. Certainly at that level, at the highest level, to commit the foul and give them the lead.

“They have to win 1-0 at home to qualify, I’d certainly fancy them, if there’s one team that can defensively be very, very strong it’s Juventus, but if Madrid only need 1-0 or 2-0 I’d certainly take them, at home.”

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