Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bale Could bring Soul to The Red Devils

It happened again. Only now it's more an expectation than an exception. The world's most expensive footballer dragged over hot coals for his performance in a Real Madrid team who, on paper, should effortlessly sweep all before them.
Gareth Frank Bale has become emblematic of the side's barely accountable decline. Although individually, he wasn't that poor- certainly not compared with his lauded team mate, Cristiano Ronaldo- it was his contribution, effort, body language that was analysed to the point of near meaninglessness. And, as it is across the British media on a near daily basis, the question of whether the Welshman will soon return to the Premier League.
The possibility has been perenially dismissed, both by the player's agent, Jonathan Barnett, and various figures in and around the club, including the manager, Carlo Ancelotti. Never the less, it is the rumour that simply refuses to go away. The bulk of reports from the UK's more established outlets suggest a strong and ongoing interest from Manchester United- and to a lesser extent Chelsea- that has persisted sinced they attempted to gazump his transfer to the Spanish giants from Spurs.

Moreover, aside from any- quite reasonable- resentment that hyper-criticism of his contributions have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, due to a resultant dip in confidence, all non-official indicators suggest all is not well in Bale's personal life. Footage of the player being abused by fans as he leaves the Bernabau are becoming increasingly common, and suggestions that his young family have failed to settle abroad appear to have been confirmed when The Telegraph's Mark Ogden revealed on MUTV that they have already moved back to the UK. This, combined with the fact that Bale is widely known to have struggled learning Castilian, paints the player as an isolated figure in and out of the dressing room.
The belief that it is only a matter of time before the Welshman returns to the Premier League was echoed by the Sunday Express reporter, John Richardson, who has stated that he believes that a move to Manchester United is essentially 'a done deal' and that, contrary to statements by the player and his agent, he is 'very unhappy' at his treatement. This is significant as, while the online versions national tabloids will happily fill pages with baseless tittle-tattle regarding transfers, few established journalists will put their names to so strident statements unless they are confident in their sources.

Bale's return, then, seems all but inevitable. However, his options may be limited. Few clubs across the world could afford his transfer fee and wages. Bayern Munich are both wealthy and keen to rejuvinate their squad, however, given how the winger and his family have already struggled in foreign climes, it is unlikely that Germany would be any more appealing than Spain. Therefore, the Premier League presents itself as the only realistic possibility. Given that the player would likely demand Champion's League football, the only options would be the current top four: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Arsenal would seem the least likely destination given the transfer patterns and behaviour of both club and manager. Though massively wealthy and showing an inclination towards bigger spending in recent years, the £80m plus required to capture the Welshman seems improbably bold, and no link has been made thus far. This, coupled with the lack of silverwear they have seized across the last decade, probably rules them out of attracting the very elite of the game. Chelsea would surely be interested, provided his purchase would not threaten their compliance with FFP, and Manchester City are doubtless keen to rejuvinate an aging squad lacking in pace, urgency, and width.
However, although question marks must exist over whether- following the purchases of DiMaria and Depay- Manchester United would consider a winger a top priority, England's most successful club appear to be the inevitable destination. Di Maria has appeared unsettled following a positive start and United maybe prepared to cut their losses if it means attracting the Real Madrid man.

Although he would demand a huge outlay, and the club have other positions in need of strengthening, they would loathe to miss out on one the game's few global superstars, not least to either Chelsea or their City rivals. And to be beaten to the winger by either Mourinho or their City rivals would send a message of surrender neither the board nor Luis Van Gaal would tolerate.

But aside from the fact that the transfer to the Red Devils would be the path of least resistance, the team could give him the pride of place his talent deserves. No longer condemned to being the straight-man for the increasingly petulant and megalomaniacal Ronaldo, Bale would be afforded the freedom to attack opposition as he sees fit, while his manager could return to his cherished 4-3-3 formation of vintage. With a team attuned to his needs but with the quality of team mate he could scarcely dream of in his time at Spurs, the potential for what he might achieve in the prime of his career is frightening.
With an unprecedented television and kit deal, United are freed from the shackles placed upon them by the debts of the Glazer family, and are now able to aggressively pursue the world's best. And the very best player available this summer is Gareth Bale, whose purchase would be emblematic of the club's ambitions to once again compete with the Europe's elite. It is a transfer that the club and the Premier League as a whole not only wants, but needs.

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