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13 Jul 2018

Man Utd: Why Gareth Bale won't leave Real Madrid

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A new future under Lopetegui

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Emerging from Ronaldo's shadow

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Stepping down to Manchester

(Photo credit: Антон Зайцев)

Jose Mourinho has long been an admirer of Gareth Bale, and had Zinedine Zidane remained the manager of Real Madrid, then there would have been every chance of acquiring his signature ahead of the summer transfer deadline.

Sky Sports report that Bale is still the subject of interest from Manchester United, though he's due to hold crunch talks with new Los Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui amid this speculation.

Although the Red Devils remain keen on the Welshman, they shouldn't count their chickens just yet. With a new boss and Cristiano Ronaldo out of the picture, why would Bale leave the Spanish capital?

A new future under Lopetegui

"I need to be playing week in, week out, and that's not happened this season," Bale told BT Sport in the wake of his fourth Champions League victory - in which he scored a brace against Liverpool, including a stunning overhead effort moments after coming off the bench. "I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it."

With discontent deriving from a dramatic reduction in playing time - culminating in a place on the bench for a second consecutive Champions League final - Bale was understandably coy on his future when questioned about it, opening the door to renewed interest from the Red Devils.

However, that was then, and this is now.

REUTERS/Juan Medina 

He clearly wasn't one of Zidane's favourites and was the only Real Madrid player to not post a message of thanks to the club icon after he announced his resignation. With Lopetegui replacing him, however, there's no reason to suggest that such treatment will continue. Hence, the purpose of talks with the former Spain manager.

Emerging from Ronaldo's shadow

Initially moving to Real Madrid in 2013, Bale knew that he was always going to be in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, and his suggestive comments after the Champions League final were made prior to the knowledge that Ronaldo would be moving on.

However, after completing a 105 million move to Juventus, there's a void - a void that Bale can step into. This is the Welshman's chance to the main man at the Santiago Bernabeu, to provide the goals that they'll inevitably miss following Ronaldo's departure.

REUTERS/Massimo Pinca 

His scoring record won't ever be the same as the Portuguese, but Bale guarantees you at least 15 league goals per season - he's only recorded under double figures once in Madrid, scoring seven goals in 19 games in an injury-plagued 2016/17.

Therefore, a reason perhaps underpinning Bale's desire to leave - that of wanting to be the main man - no longer exists. What United can offer him, that centrality to their team, Madrid now can too.

Stepping down to Manchester

Despite overtaking Real Madrid as the richest club in football last year, Manchester United are not in the same bracket as the reigning European champions. On a decline since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes was a failed experiment, as was Louis van Gaal, whilst Mourinho has steadied the ship, to an extent.

One FA Cup, one League Cup and one Europa League since Fergie. No Champions Leagues in ten years and no Premier League titles since 2013. When you compare that to Los Blancos' haul of four Champions League titles in the last five years, the contrast is stark.

Manchester United are a step down from Real Madrid, despite their untold wealth and global stature. They can offer Bale money, but so can Madrid. Perhaps more playing time, but so, too, can Madrid now.

United have no pulling power that Los Blancos lack, and the prospect of working for Mourinho isn't as appealing as it once was. You need only look at Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford for an example of what the Portuguese can do to wide forwards.

On that basis, why would Bale leave?

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