Reports: Man United are preparing to pick the pockets of Real Madrid with an audacious swoop
Manchester United have unquestionably morphed into a more potent force in the transfer market since the appointment of Jose Mourinho and, according to reports coming from Spain, they're preparing to land a player who has evaded their clutches for almost a decade.
If rumours are to be believed, United beat out both Real Madrid and Barcelona for the world record signature of Paul Pogba, who arrived at Old Trafford this summer following the purchases of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The foursome represent the quality of marquee players that have tended to spurn the club’s advances since the departure of Alex Ferguson.
One man in particular resisted the overtures of the club after the Scot’s retirement, none other than Gareth Bale, who, in 2013, rejected them in favour of joining Real Madrid.
Los Blancos forked over a then world record £85.1m (€100.5m) to Spurs for the Welshman’s services, a fee United were happy to match but Bale deemed Madrid the more appealing option and the evidence clearly shows he made the correct choice.
Since arriving at the Bernabeu, Bale has won two Champions Leagues and a Copa Del Rey, while United drudged through the tenures of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, which cumulatively yielded an FA Cup.
Traditionally, it has been Madrid who have picked the pockets of United, whether that be Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham, Gabriel Heinze or, most famously, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Indeed, last season Sergio Ramos cleverly used United as a bargaining chip when seeking the most lucrative new deal possible at Madrid.
However, Spanish outlet OK Diario are reporting that the Manchester outfit are plotting to turn the tables in the most audacious manner possible.
Although Bale only just signed a contract with the Spanish giants that would keep him at the club until 2021, United are said to have contacted his agent, Jonathan Barnett, with an outrageous offer.
Bale is currently earning £10m (€11.8m) a year - only Ronaldo takes home more at Madrid - but United are prepared to offer him £16.7m (€19m) after tax.
Now, exactly how much Ed Woodward and co would be expected to pay Madrid for the 27-year-old is another matter entirely.
Barnett also represents United players Luke Shaw and Tim Fosu-Mensah but that is unlikely to be any sort of decisive factor.
However, almost an extra £7m (€8.2) per annum just might. Remember that United first tried to sign Bale from Southampton when he was just 18, so they’re nothing if not tenacious.
United are also thought to be in pursuit of Atletico Madrid's French striker Antoine Griezmann but are expected to face stiff competition from Chelsea.