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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Should Manchester United Go After Gareth Bale?

It has been another disappointing season for Manchester United under the management of José Mourinho, culminating in the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. It is quite often the case for any ‘so-called’ big clubs to spend big after a season of disappointment, and this is likely to be the case at Old Trafford this summer.

One of many players to already be linked with the Red Devils is Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. The 28-year-old sparked speculation about his future in the aftermath to his side’s 3-1 win in the Champions League final against Liverpool at the weekend.

When questioned about his future, the forward told BT Sport: “Obviously I need to be playing week-in, week-out and that hasn’t been happening this season, for one reason or another.

He went on to add that he would have to “sit down and discuss it with my agent and take it from there”, which suggests that he could be on his way out of the Santiago Bernabéu in the near future.

However, can United afford to take another very expensive gamble?

Unlikely to be sold on the cheap

Despite the fact that Bale may wish to leave Madrid this summer, the club’s hierarchy are unlikely to sell him on the cheap. Recent speculation has suggested that they would want close to £200 million for the winger, meaning that they would secure a significant profit on the £85 million they paid for him when he joined from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013.

It would be a gamble for Manchester United to invest this sort of money in one player, especially considering the amount they have already spent in recent years. Paul Pogba arrived at back at Old Trafford two years ago for a whopping £89 million. However, he has hardly set the world alight and is still yet to find his best form under Mourinho.

United also secured one of the most high-profile transfers of the January transfer window as Alexis Sánchez joined on a free transfer from Arsenal, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way. Despite the fact it was a free transfer, it was still a significant financial investment from the club considering the wages that the Chilean forward is on at Old Trafford.

Similarly, to Pogba, the 29-year-old forward has struggled with life at his new club, albeit having been in Manchester for a far shorter period of time. If Bale did join United, he would most likely be utilised on either the left or right wing, meaning that Sánchez’s place in the starting line-up could be put into doubt. It would certainly be bad news for both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford who have found game time hard to come by anyway.

Can he stay fit for an entire season?

However, the first concern that pops up into any United fan’s head, might not be financially orientated, but instead be concerns over Bale’s fitness. He has only made 33 appearances in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League this season, missing a number of games through injury.

Despite this, he has always played well when he has been selected in the starting line-up. He has scored a total of 19 goals in those two competitions, as well as picking up four assists. He has the ability to perform on the big stage, shown by his two goals when he came on as a substitute in the Champions League final against Liverpool.

Bale’s relationship with Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who has recently resigned from his position, was clearly not in a particularly good state, proven by the fact that Zidane did not speak to him in the immediate aftermath to the Champions League final, despite Bale’s match-winning contribution. This could have had something to do with Bale’s frustration at being left out following his struggle with an ankle injury which has had a long-term effect on him.

Where will he end up?

If Bale is to depart Madrid this summer, Manchester United will not be the only team to be interested in securing his services. The money involved will rule out a number of clubs but Tottenham Hotspur are another team said to be monitoring the situation. Mauricio Pochettino recently signed a new contract at the club and signing Bale would certainly be a huge statement of intent, especially considering they are also preparing to move into their new stadium.

There are sources close to the player which suggest that he may be tempted by a shock move back to his former club, and may even take a wage cut in order to get the move over the line. It will certainly be interesting to see how Bale’s situation develops over the summer and whatever move he may decide to take.

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