Wednesday 15 August 2018

Bale's frustrations with Zidane put United and Bayern on high alert

Bale: On the move. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Bale: On the move. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Jason Burt

Gareth Bale has reiterated that it will be his decision whether he quits Real Madrid this summer.

In the aftermath of his match-winning performance in the Champions League final, he also said that manager Zinedine Zidane had not spoken to him following his two-goal display.

The revelation that he is considering his future amounted to the biggest 'Come and get me' plea ever made after such a high-profile game - or a challenge to Real to show how much they want to keep him.

It is known that Bale has become increasingly frustrated at being marginalised under Zidane, who clearly does not regard him as first-choice, with suggestions that his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo has also become strained.

As if not to be outdone, Ronaldo appeared to cast doubt on his own future and caused Spanish consternation when he said: "It was very nice to be at Real Madrid."

Never has the use of the past tense been so scrutinised, with Ronaldo soon realising he might have gone too far, saying in another interview: "I shouldn't have said what I said."

The view within Real is that Ronaldo simply wants to be loved and does not want to be too far from the headlines and attention on a night that so clearly belonged to Bale - but also one that Bale used for his own purposes.

Manchester United or Bayern Munich are the most likely destinations if Bale's warning that he needs to sit down with his agents and decide his future lead to the conclusion that the 28-year-old has to go.

"It's an amazing achievement, an amazing feeling," he said after collecting a fourth Champions League winners' medal in five years.

"I was very disappointed not to start the game. I felt like maybe I deserved to start. I have been playing well since Christmas, really. Anyone would be disappointed not to start a final. The most important thing is that I know how to be professional, and when you come on, you need to try to make an impact, and I did that."

Of his first goal, an arresting overhead kick, Bale said: "I have tried it many times before and come close - I have hit the post. It's just instinct.

"I could see the ball there and got a great connection. It was great to see it fly in. The most important thing is to help the team to win a trophy."

Asked again if he was seriously considering leaving Real, he said: "Personally, I feel like I should be playing week-in, week-out, and I haven't been. I've been doing well, scoring goals, but I haven't been playing as much as I would like so I am going to have to sit down over the summer and seriously consider what we do next.

"I got over my ankle injury just around Christmas. It took until then to fully recover. Now I feel like I am getting stronger, getting better, and that I have a lot more left to give. That's why I feel like I need to be playing week in, week out.

"I want to enjoy this moment first, then rest over the summer and I'm sure we'll sit down at the table and see what's for the best. It's my decision at the end of the day. I will rest and sit down and decide my next move and what I want to do and whether I stay or go."

Asked whether Zidane had said anything to him, Bale said: "No."

United made a late effort to sign Bale before he joined Real from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 - and even bid more for the Wales international, who cost the Spanish giants £85m.

They left it too late but offered more than £100m and made it clear that if Bale ever wanted to come back to England, they would like to speak to him.

Bayern are an intriguing possibility, given that sources close to Bale have indicated that it should not be assumed he would return to the Premier League once his time at Real is over.

He also gave a strategic interview to a German publication, Sport Bild, prior to Real's Champions League semi-final against Bayern this season in which he spoke of being flattered by their potential interest.

The finances would be astonishing, given Bale's wages and the fact he is contracted to Real until 2022. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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