Gareth Bale is finally ready for Real Madrid transfer, but are Man United, Spurs or anyone else ready to take him?

The Welshman’s not-so-subtle 'come and get me' plea was heard around the world - but were the right clubs listening?

Jack Austin
Monday 28 May 2018 11:56
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Gareth Bale says he will consider Real Madrid future after scoring twice in Champions League final

Less than 24 hours after Real Madrid lifted a historic third consecutive Champions League title the heroes of that night in Kiev were back in the Spanish capital showing off their prize. Sergio Ramos had triumphantly draped the statue of Phrygian goddess Cybele in a Real Madrid flag outside the palace named after her before engaging the crowd in song after song as the party rolled into the Bernabeu.

There the festivities continued, as Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo did a version of the latter’s famous goal celebration and the crowd joined in with a rapturous “Siiiiii!” echoing around the stadium. But it is the words of Saturday’s match winner which are echoing the loudest around Europe. And it was no coincidence that a tight-lipped Bale was restricted to a role on the periphery as his Real teammates partied and happily posed for photographs.

“I'm disappointed not to start the game,” said Gareth Bale, no more than 30 minutes after scoring arguably the greatest Champions League final goal ever. “I felt like I deserved it but the manager makes the decisions so what can you do? I need to be playing week in week out and that hasn't happen this season for one reason or another, I need to sit down in the summer and discus it with my agent and go from there.”

Bale’s loveless marriage with manager Zinedine Zidane appears to have finally hit the point of divorce as the two didn’t say a word to one another after the final. To say the Welshman was unhappy to be left out of the semi-finals against Bayern Munich would be putting it lightly and his frustration was laid bare to see after proving his point in Kiev from the bench.

The Independent revealed on Sunday, hours after the world’s least subtle ‘come and get me’ plea, that his comments were aimed at Manchester United, his first choice, and he has told some Real teammates just as much.

But it’s not as simple as that.

As the recently re-crowned richest club in the world, United can afford Bale and his wages - of course they can - and he carries the X-factor, the superstar name that Ed Woodward and his commercial department are always craving. His announcement video wouldn’t just have Alexis Sanchez’s piano, it would have the whole orchestra. It all makes so much sense. Or at least it did 10 months ago when Jose Mourinho spoke publicly of his admiration for the Welshman ahead of the Uefa Super Cup between United and Real.

But now the picture is not quite so clear. Sanchez’s arrival has since satisfied Mourinho’s hunger for a forward, even if his form has been nothing like how it was advertised at Arsenal, and the Portuguese has other priorities – namely midfield and defence. They also feel that a deal for Bale would be too highly priced – both in terms of a fee and wages, given he is said to earn a total of almost £600,000 a week – at too high an age, especially considering his recent injury problems.

Should United remain stubborn to their current mindset, a distinct possibility given Woodward’s unrelenting confidence in almost anything Mourinho decides, then the options become scarcer.

Tottenham Hotspur have retained their first refusal on Bale that was included in the initial deal to take him to La Liga for £86m back in 2013. Leaked documents of the transfer confirmed the details of Spurs’ position where if Real were to accept a bid from any other Premier League club before 30 June 2019, the north Londoners would then have 72 hours to match the offer. Should they do that, Real, contractually, must sell to Spurs.

Bale would likely fetch anything in the region of £100m, however, and with a new £1bn stadium to pay off and a basic wage cap (excluding bonuses) of £100,000-a-week, the dream homecoming for so many Spurs fans remains just that – a dream. It would take a dramatic shift Bale’s wage demands or the tautness of Daniel Levy’s notoriously tight purse-strings to change the current situation, especially with the knock-on effect on other star players’ wages that would inevitably have to follow.

So where else? Chelsea? Manchester City? The most likely third option for Bale and his team would actually be Bayern Munich, who have a very good relationship with Real Madrid. They negotiated a two-year loan deal with an option to buy for James Rodriguez last summer and oversaw the exchange of Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos a couple of years earlier. It is an option that has been tentatively mentioned on Bale’s side although United firmly remain his favoured move.

To put it simply, any transfer will be far from simple. Bale’s sublime first goal in the Champions League final had the desired effect of reminding the world of his brilliance, but also ironically jogged Real’s memory of what he can do and they will now have altered his asking price somewhat. And they’re not afraid of holding on to players whose price-tags are not met, as shown with Alvaro Morata in 2016.

This will run and run and something will have to give at some point, whether it’s United, Real, or – more likely – the Welshman’s salary.

So brace yourself for this summer’s blockbuster transfer saga, starring Bale in the lead role. The drama is only just getting started.

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