Monday 23 October 2017

Manchester United failed in £100m bid to sign Gareth Bale

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal against Real Valladolid during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid last night
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal against Real Valladolid during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid last night

Jason Burt

WHILE Gareth Bale was busy repaying another slice of the £85m Real Madrid paid for his services with his first hat-trick for his new club last night, it emerged that Manchester United attempted to hijack the deal in the final two weeks of the summer transfer window.

In a series of phone calls – and also at least one face-to-face meeting – between high-level officials from both clubs, United indicated they would bid around £100m for Bale if he could be persuaded to give up his dream of joining the Spanish club.

At the time, United were desperate to land at least one marquee signing in the summer as a sign of intent, with manager David Moyes newly-arrived as the successor to Alex Ferguson and with a new executive vice-chairman in Ed Woodward.

Bale had already rejected tentative approaches from Paris Saint-Germain having set his heart on a move to Madrid, who had been talking to Spurs since May. United simply left it too late, which raises further questions over their transfer strategy last summer.

Spurs did not believe Bale would prefer to join United, who they host at White Hart Lane today, and were also reluctant to do business with a fellow Premier League club, not least because of the fractious history of deals between the two.

Any move would also have played badly with the club's supporters and chairman Daniel Levy was acutely aware of the sensitivities around selling Bale, especially after both Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov had joined United in recent seasons.

Nevertheless, during informal talks which began directly after Spurs' opening league game of the season away to Crystal Palace on August 18, there was a suggestion that United might be persuaded to take Emmanuel Adebayor to Old Trafford if it meant they could sign Bale.

Adebayor was told in the summer he was surplus to requirements at Spurs where he is the club's highest-earner – he is reported to earn around £140,000 a week – but has been a huge disappointment after agreeing a permanent deal following a season-long loan from Manchester City.

Spurs hope to move Adebayor on in the January transfer window and have identified United's Javier Hernandez as an ideal replacement.

In the end, United did not submit a formal bid for Bale – partly because they had received little encouragement that one would succeed, but also because they did not want to be seen to fail in such a high-profile move having already failed to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.

Spurs eventually received a world-record bid from Real for Bale, with the Spanish giants paying £5m more than the £80m they paid United to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

In the end United's only big-money signing was Marouane Felliani from Everton for £27m, although the midfielder has so far struggled to live up to that price-tag and is yet to score a goal for his new club.

United are expected to be busy during the January window with a new offer for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera, who they also tried to sign in January, likely. The Spaniard is keen to join United and Moyes is desperate to strengthen his midfield. A bid of £20m plus £3m in add-ons was rejected in August.

Sunday Independent

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