Saturday 17 March 2018

Should Gareth Bale join Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Man City if he quits Real Madrid?

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale has a range of options to choose from if he decides to end his time in Spain following Rafael Benitez's sacking.


The case for:

United have been the most dogged pursuers of Bale since rumours began to swirl over his long-term future at Real Madrid.

The club are desperate to sprinkle more star-dust over a squad that lacks players who can thrill the Old Trafford crowd, and a player of Bale's brio would be in keeping with their traditions.

The presence of Ryan Giggs - one of Bale's childhood heroes, and a former team-mate at Wales - would help smooth negotiations and money would be no object, with United already avowing that they intend to spend big again in the transfer market in 2016.

The case against:

Would Louis van Gaal want Bale - or, perhaps more pertinently, would Bale want to play for him? The United manager's conservative, safety-first football is hardly an enticing prospect for a player of Bale's attacking instincts, and while the Welshman is no stranger to hard work, he might prefer to play for a manager whose attitude is more in keeping with his own.

There is also the prospect of United potentially missing out on Champions League football: it would be difficult for United to attract him on the basis of Europa League trips on Thursday nights.



The case for:

The prospect of Pep Guardiola replacing Manuel Pellegrini this summer and playing under the world's most coveted coach would be a huge temptation for a player of Bale's calibre.

Guardiola's ethos is to liberate and celebrate his attacking talents, while also demanding that they do their fair share of hard work, and Bale would fit comfortably into that philosophy.

Money, again, is not an issue given City's cash reserves and the relaxation of Financial Fair Play regulations and City are well placed to secure Champions League football next season. There is also the enticing prospect of playing with like-minded talents such as David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, for a club that cherishes free-flowing attacking football.

The case against:

For all their recent successes and progress off the field, City still do not feel like a blue chip club.

The aura that hangs over United, Arsenal, Liverpool and even Chelsea is more significant, a point evidenced by the half-hearted reaction of City's fans to Champions League nights at the Etihad.

That could change with time, and the arrival of Guardiola would undoubtedly take City to a new level, but it could be a deterrent for a player who will have grown accustomed to the starry atmosphere that hangs over the Bernabeu.



The case for:

Chelsea retain an obivous appeal: a squad packed full of quality, one of the biggest budgets in the league and a London lifestyle.

Roman Abramovich might be searching for a new manager but nobody doubts that whoever does take over at Stamford Bridge will be of the highest calibre, and Bale would doubtless be given assurances in that regard in the event of any negotiations.

Chelsea are not exactly lacking in attacking quality, but there are suggestions that Zinedine Zidane would consider a move for Eden Hazard - in which case some kind of swap deal could make sense for both clubs.

The case against:

Chelsea's lack of a permanent manager is inevitably unsettling, and they appear no nearer to securing a successor to Jose Mourinho.

The most likely candidate, Diego Simeone, is a fine coach but does his streetfighting philosophy sit comfortably with Bale's approach to the game?

There is also the issue of Champions League football: Guus Hiddink might have engineered a mini-revival in west London, but Chelsea still have much ground to make up in their pursuit of a top-four finish and the odds have to be against them making it. As for United, the Europa League is a terribly hard sell.



The case for:

There have been precious few reports linking Bale to the Emirates, which on the surface seems rather odd.

Arsenal have the money, their best squad in years and a manager who relishes the prospect of working with attacking cavaliers such as Bale.

He would also provide him with something different - a muscular athleticism and devastating pace which would supplement the more subtle skills of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez.

The case against:

The money, stupid. The idea of paying the best part of £75million for any single player is likely to bring Wenger out in a cold sweat, and would represent a first.

While Bale is a different beast to Wenger's other attacking options, Arsenal's priorities should arguably lie in other areas - namely central defence and a midfield enforcer.

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