You know the international break has dragged on when there are big summer transfer rumours flying around.
The most recent one coming out of Spain is that, according to El Confidencial via the Metro, Real Madrid are open to selling Gareth Bale as long as they can recoup the £85 million they spent on the Welsh winger.
The natural step then is that it opens the way for a move to Manchester United, who were reportedly seriously interested in Bale this summer but couldn’t get a move done. But my question is, why would United be interested in him?
We all know what Gareth Bale does. His pace, his direct running, and close control causes endless problems for defences, as does his ability to play on either flank and cut in toward goal. He has scored 72 goals for Madrid along with 44 assists in his four-plus seasons in the Spanish capital which sounds all well and good, but he is also surrounded by superstar talent taking on a league that everyone agrees is less competitive, and less combative, than the Premier League.
Why Madrid would want rid of him
Bale’s injuries have seemingly reached a critical mass for Madrid. He has played 30 La Liga games just once in his time for Madrid, and made just 19 league appearances last season, opening the door for the likes of Isco and Marco Asensio to showcase their talents.
For all of its “Galactico” headlines, Madrid has always wanted home-grown, or at least Spanish, stars. And both Isco and Asensio, along with Dani Ceballos and Lucas Vazquez represent the best of Spain’s incredible wealth of footballing talent.
Bale’s exploits at Tottenham were terrific, but his nationality means he has been unable to show his talents on the global stage. As great as he was during Euro 2016, that’s not what the whole world are watching, and once again Wales will be missing out on the biggest tournament. The foreigners at Madrid better have a world-class reputation and global recognition. Cristiano Ronaldo has that, Karim Benzema has that, does Bale?
United’s current team
Jose Mourinho’s second-season magic is working once again, and the Old Trafford attack is humming so far this season. Romelu Lukaku has banged in seven goals, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has five assists, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have been a tag-team of terror on the left wing while Juan Mata has been cutting in from the right and causing chaos.
While Manchester City’s fierce attack has been taking a lot of plaudits this season, United’s 21 goals in seven Premier League games is ridiculous too.
Upsetting the balance
If you offered football fans Juan Mata or Gareth Bale, they would bite your hand off for Bale, and that makes sense if you isolate their attacking skills, but despite his reputation for eschewing defensive duties, Mata has been better this season when playing without the ball, and that is something Bale does not do.
United also have a young front trio in Martial, Rashford and Lukaku, where the Belgian forward is the oldest at 24. They are already one of the best trios in the league, why risk that balance with an ageing, injury-prone winger?
Bale is a superb player right now when he is on the field, but a lot of his game is based on his speed, and no one gets faster as they enter their 30’s. The earliest United can realistically sign him is Summer 2018, which gives them exactly one year before he hits his 30’s, is that really worth £85 million?
Given the crazy prices that have been thrown around this summer maybe that is not overly ridiculous, but disrupting what is going to be a long-term force in world football would be a crazy idea.
Jose Mourinho loves to make a splashy signing, but Gareth Bale should not be that guy.
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