Friday 27 April 2018

Gareth Bale to Manchester United reports may have more momentum than rumours suggest

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid CF at Allianz Arena on April 12, 2017 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Gareth Bale of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid CF at Allianz Arena on April 12, 2017 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Gareth Bale’s future at Real Madrid has become the subject of intense media speculation in Spain and England in recent days, with the latest report suggesting the Welshman has ‘agreed a deal’ to join Manchester United this summer.

Spanish gossip outlet Diario Gol have captured plenty of attention on social media channels after claiming Bale has given a green light to a move to United, so long as Jose Mourinho’s side secured qualification to the Champions League.

It’s the kind of story that will generate plenty of web hits on a quite Monday, and while this ‘world exclusive’ lacks credibility for a variety of reasons, there is some evidence to suspect the ground is shifting under Bale with the Real Madrid hierarchy.

The huge buy-out clause - reported to be €500m in some quarters - in the new contract Bale signed only last November, is one obvious stumbling block to any deal, while there has been no evidence that Real Madrid President Florentino Perez is considering cashing in on one of his personal favourite players.

Yet even if Real Madrid are unlikely to make any public comment on what may be seen as the tabloid press dreaming up some transfer gossip, the lack of stories counteracting rumours of Bale’s uncertain future in the Spanish capital have not gone unnoticed.

A timely story in Spanish newspaper Marca tends to banish these kind of rumours before they gather any momentum, but a familiar leak from the club has not emerged despite persistent reports that Bale may be sacrificed in a summer that may see Real Madrid splash the cash to sign Manchester United keeper David De Gea, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowksi.

If Real Madrid are wavering in their backing of Bale, it is clear that the attacking star’s recurring calf problem will be at the root of their deliberations.

Bale has started just 17 La Liga games this season, with an ankle injury that required surgery in November now compounded by a calf muscle injury that is the primary point of concern for the Spanish giants.

Concerns over Bale’s calf issue have surfaced time and again in the last three years, with the issue still an ongoing concern heading into the final month of this season with the weakness in the soleus muscle aggravated once more in the El Clasico against Barcelona last month.

The club’s No.11 now faces a race against time to be fully fit for the final few games of Real Madrid’s season, which look likely to include a Champions League final in his native Wales on June 3rd.

So could it be that his third Champions League final appearances in a Real Madrid shirt may be his last for the club?

While Independent.ie understands that the player and his representatives are dismissive of reports suggesting Real Madrid chiefs are growing frustrated with Bale’s injury problems, statistics that confirm he has been available to start less than half of the club’s games over the last two seasons has to be a concern.

United may be one of the few clubs in world football who could fund a deal for a player who has won two Champions League titles in his first three seasons as a Real Madrid player, with Old Trafford chiefs trying and failing to sign Bale on two separate occasions in the last four years.

So even if the chances of a deal being struck that will see Bale move to United ahead of next season, the transfer of the summer is not as impossible to envisage as it seemed just a month ago.

Online Editors

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