Monday 21 October 2019

Mbappe move to spark fresh United Bale bid

Welsh wizard may be surplus to requirements at Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale. Photo: AMA/Getty Images
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale. Photo: AMA/Getty Images

Miguel Delaney

With Kylian Mbappe expected to join Real Madrid for a world-record £161m (€180m), speculation is mounting that Manchester United could finally sign Gareth Bale.

Some Madrid insiders have suggested that Real need to raise even more money to sign the French teenager from Monaco, but others insist that the European champions' focus is on ensuring that Mbappe can expect to play regularly.

Adding another edge to the game of spin so much of this has become is Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's interest in Mbappe and how that could influence things.

While City sources have denied they have made a bid for the Monaco striker and say they would not be interested at that price, there is absolutely no denying United's long-term interest in Bale.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward wants to sign a 'star' every summer and his dream has long been to bring Cristiano Ronaldo 'home'. But Bale has been a close second on the club's wish list.

The Old Trafford hierarchy first went after Bale at the same time it was first broached that they could have a chance of bringing Ronaldo back, in early 2013.

Kylian Mbappe is expected to join Real Madrid for a world-record £161m (€180m). Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Kylian Mbappe is expected to join Real Madrid for a world-record £161m (€180m). Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The Welsh star's admirable wanderlust meant he ended up joining Ronaldo at Real and, while his time at the Bernabeu has generally gone well - as a key goal in the 2014 Champions League final would ensure - it hasn't been completely smooth.

Bale's abilities meant he was seen as the eventual successor to Ronaldo, only for the Portuguese superstar and the Real team to gradually change their style.

Bale's value to Real evolved into a big debate ahead of the 2017 Champions League final and whether Zinedine Zidane's side were better served by Isco being in the team.

That led to the latest flurry of United interest and proper work on a potential deal as they informally discussed a number of players with Real this summer.

While Bale would like to spend at least another year at the Bernabeu - but not as a bit-part player - he has made it clear that Old Trafford will be his only destination if he does leave.

United sources now say the club feel they have a real chance of getting him and some feel that is why they didn't follow through on the Ivan Perisic deal, given that Inter Milan had pretty much set a price.

Bale won't be going anywhere unless Real get Mbappe and, despite some of the denials, there are others connected to the deal who think City have a decent chance of stealing in.

For City to usurp the European champions for the world's hottest player, while also scuppering a big United deal, would be one of the greatest coups of their history.

While Guardiola and his staff have for a long time been fairly confident of signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, they have started to talk as if they might have to wait until next summer to land the Chilean.

Since City are intent on making a proper impact this summer and, having spent a fortune on assembling the world's most expensive defence, they are now fully focused on strengthening their attacking options. Hence, their renewed interest in Mbappe.

Real remain favourites to get their man and Zidane has personally been involved in the negotiations.

Wherever Mbappe goes, it will spark a domino effect.

Will Monaco also agree to sell Thomas Lemar to Arsenal, having already lost Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy?

And if Lemar joins Arsenal, will Arsene Wenger agree to sell Alexis Sanchez - probably to PSG - given that the Chilean can leave for free at the end of his contract next summer?

Barcelona's pursuit of Philippe Coutinho is not believed to be contingent on Neymar joining PSG.

Barca have already had a £72m (€81m) bid turned down for Coutinho, and are expected to come back with a second offer of £80m (€90m).

(© Independent News Service)

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