We’re not even close to the end of the current campaign yet, but that hasn’t stopped the futures of certain players being discussed at length.
One of those who appears to be consistently in the news is Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.
The Welshman hasn’t had the best of seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, it’s true, but to blame all of Los Blancos’ ills on him would be wholly unfair.
There’ve been plenty of other big names that have underperformed, but it seems that there always needs to be a scapegoat in Madrid.
If recent column inches are to be believed, and many of those have come from media outlets with unprecedented access to the club, then moves are already afoot to test the waters and see what interest there is from clubs willing to acquire Bale’s services.
At 29 (he’ll be 30 by the start of next season), he still has a few good years left in him, but clearly his monetary value won’t be as high at this point of his career - and that is a potential bargaining chip for interested parties.
He’ll still command a decent fee in the current market, mind.
But where could he end up? There’s rumoured interest from Italy, Germany and China, but the smart money is on a return to the Premier League.
One of the reasons that many at Real haven’t taken to Bale is his reluctance to speak Spanish, so he’s hardly likely to move to another country where the language is problematic.
It would be a wonderful homecoming, and Bale has never hidden his love for Tottenham.
It’s where he truly made his name and earned his move to the Bernabeu, and if the Lilywhites show genuine interest it’s really going to tug at the wide man’s heart strings.
Now used to being a serial winner, perhaps the only thing that could make Bale think twice is whether Spurs have what it takes to push on to the next level, although their brand new stadium is certainly a step in the right direction.
Under Mauricio Pochettino, they’ve been a joy to watch at times, but they’ve always just fallen short when it matters.
Maybe Bale is the man to galvanise the club and take them forward, and that’s an intoxicating thought for any player.
There’d be room for him too. ‘Poch’ enjoys playing a variety of systems and Bale can be slotted into a number of positions.
It would mean one or two players losing their places, but when the quality that Bale brings becomes available, you don’t turn that down.
Ole’s at the wheel, and what a damn good job he’s doing too, despite their recent wobbles. Let’s be honest though, this isn’t ‘his’ team.
The Norwegian will truly be judged on what he does next season, and that includes how he conducts his transfer business.
Will he allow the likes of Paul Pogba to leave, and who will he bring in? Clearly, the Man Utd philosophy has always been to only buy staff who can improve what they have, and Bale certainly fits into that category.
Of all of the teams that appear to be showing an interest in the Welshman, odds for a move to United are the shortest.
That may have something to do with a genuine move for him when Jose Mourinho was in charge, even though it never reached the first base of negotiations.
What United lack for the most part at the moment, and what Bale can provide, is true match-winning capabilities.
Rashford, Martial, Lukaku and Pogba are all able to be that guy, but the reality is that it’s only the Frenchman who elevates his performances on a regular enough basis.
As long as Solksjaer can find room, Bale can do a similar job for him.
This is a potentially very interesting move, and there’s real value to be had from a transfer betting standpoint, if Chelsea can sign players before their UEFA ban takes hold.
An appeal will be heard but no date has been set for the same, and they’ll be hoping they can take advantage just as Barcelona did before their ban.
With the Catalans punishment pushed back a year, it allowed them to sign Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Chelsea haven’t really been mentioned in connection with Bale, but a move to west London makes an awful lot of sense.
Particularly if you consider that he could be used as a makeweight in a deal for Eden Hazard.
The Belgian has been courting Real for well over a year now, and with Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, a known admirer of the player, it seems almost certain he’ll make the move this summer (1/4).
From his time at Tottenham, Bale clearly enjoys living in the English capital, and his skillset would be complementary to what the Blues already have in-situ.
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