11 reasons why Gareth Bale will sign for Manchester United
With the Real Madrid star a $100m target for Manchester United in the summer, here is a look at why the transfer could go ahead.
1. Real's fans haven't taken to the Welshman
Despite his consistent scoring form, and his goals in the finals of last year's Champions League and Copa del Rey, Real's supporters remain ambivalent towards Bale. The situation reached its nadir earlier this year when Los Blancos' fans jeered the Welsh winger after he chose to shoot rather than pass to Cristiano Ronaldo, who was in a better position.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo is not a man to get on the wrong side of
The relationship between Ronaldo and Bale - while far from acrimonious - is not warm. The Portuguese demands to be the main man at the Bernabeu and is not afraid to publicly berate his teammates if he feels they are not recognising his status: in January, he was visibly annoyed when Bale decided not to pass to him when he was well placed, and a recent Bale goal was met by irritation from Ronaldo that he was not the one who put the ball in the net.
3. Angel di Maria set the precedent for moving from Real to United
As Di Maria showed last summer, there are very few players at Real who are completely safe. Despite being a key player for the Spanish giants and putting in a man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final, the Argentine was flogged to United for £59.7m. Moreover the fact that Di Maria joined a team who were not in the Champions League shows the power United still have to attract stellar names, and perhaps even more importantly the huge wages they can offer.
4. Manchester United are willing to spend big to restore past glories
The Old Trafford club splurged a huge amount of money in 2014 - with over £150m spent in the summer, and £37.1m handed to Chelsea for the January sale of Juan Mata - and now they have even more cash. A new record-breaking kit deal with adidas is worth £75million-a-year, while they will also bank a huge amount from returning to the Champions League this season. It all means that money is no object in the pursuit of Bale.
5. Real Madrid have no problem jettisoning recent big-name signings
Just ask Wesley Sniejder or Arjen Robben. The Dutch pair were signed in 2007, but were both sold two years later despite largely producing the goods on the pitch. A similar fate could befall Bale - it will be two years this summer since he joined Real from Spurs.
6. Isco is a fans' favourite and would be kept over Bale
Bale has often found himself jostling for position with the young Spanish midfielder Isco, who arrived in the same summer as the Welshman. Isco is popular with the supporters, and would command nowhere near the same fee as Bale, so if one of them had to be sold to generate some money to spend on the next galactico, you suspect it would be Bale.
7. Marco Reus is waiting in the wings to replace the Welsh star
Reus is being primed to replace Bale and become the club's latest galactico. The exciting German forward will likely leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, and Madrid is his expected destination. Even Real would struggle to accomodate Reus, Bale, Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Isco - and Rodriguez's promising first season would probably make him safe from any possible sale. With Isco and Ronaldo also unlikely to be sold, Reus's arrival could mean bye bye Bale.
8. Joining United would mean Bale was closer to his family
As well as the push factors from Madrid, swapping Madrid for Manchester would also hold some appeal for Bale. Firstly the move would mean the Welshman would be closer to his family - a particular concern given that Bale has a young daughter.
9. Bale knows he would be the main man at Old Trafford
Realistically no matter what Bale does at the Bernabeu, he is aware that he will always be the junior partner to Ronaldo. He'll also continue to move down the pecking order as Real hoover up a galactico in his position each summer. At United, Bale would be the fulcrum of the team, and he would be linking up with a manager who so far has played a very attacking style with up to three strikers in the team at once. A return to the Premier League and the chance to be the focal point of a team once more could see Bale performing as spectacularly as he did when last in England.
10. A move to Manchester would provide the chance to team up with Ryan Giggs
Bale has made no secret of his admiration for compatriot Giggs, and a move to Old Trafford would see him linking up with the club's assistant manager. Last year Bale said of the United legend: "I always used to watch Ryan Giggs growing up for obvious reasons, he played on the left, same as I do, and he’s Welsh and everything like that. So for me I always used to watch him play and the way he played football was so nice to watch. The things he could do with a football were incredible." Giggs would also be desperate for the sale to go through - especially if he was seen to have played a part in the deal.
11. United can offer Champions League football again
An obvious point, perhaps, but a possible move for Bale would not even be on the table had Louis van Gaal not steered Manchester United back into the top four. Champions League football is a prerequisite for signing players of Bale's magnitude, so the uplift in form engineered by Van Gaal was essential.