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Manchester United in hunt for Bale despite defensive difficulties

Real Madrid star, Gareth Bale, has been at the centre of heated speculation regarding a return to the Premier League, just over a year after his reported record £86m transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to the Spanish giants.

Manchester United (16/1 with Coral to win the title) have been linked with hosting Bale’s apparent move back to England, having been rumoured to be huge admirers of the Welsh wizard since he was a young full-back in Southampton’s ranks.

It was reported that the Red Devils made a bid to lure brilliant Bale to Old Trafford before signing for the La Liga outfit, but the former Spurs man opted for a sensational switch to Spain, resisting the temptation of United.

However, that temptation may still be lingering around the world’s most expensive footballer, with reports surfacing that he could be tempted to join the Premier League side, in a shock return to England’s top flight.

Bale bagged 26 goals in his last season in England, winning the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for his remarkable 2012-13 term.
United boss, Louis van Gaal, refused to be drawn into a discussion on the rumours linking his team with a move for Bale.

“I cannot discuss that with you,” he said. “I discuss that with my CEO (Edward Woodward) and not anyone from the media.”

Ex-Saint, Bale, has made a remarkable start to life in Spain, helping his side to win the Champions League, Spanish Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup during his short time at the club already. The 24-year-old has scored a staggering 33 goals in 66 games for Carlo Ancelotti’s men since his move to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of last year, providing 24 assists in that time too.

A scoop for La Liga’s rapid wide-man would come as a massive shock, not only because of the potentially colossal fees involved and length of Bale’s stint in Spain, but because of United’s persistence in acquiring attacking talents, and letting the defence falter.

Last summer, Dutch coach, Van Gaal, arrived at Old Trafford after a third-place finish with the Netherlands in the World Cup, and instantly brought a wealth of attacking stars with him. Angel Di Maria joined the Manchester outfit for a reported £65m, while AS Monaco striker was captured on a season long loan deal, both joining the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney at the club.

Despite a huge selection of forward options, United struggled at the beginning of the new campaign, mainly due to the team’s lacklustre defence. Youth players Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair were handed first-team debuts by Van Gaal, after a frenzy of injuries among his recognised senior centre-backs. The Red Devils have leaked 18 league goals this term, but have smashed in 30, showing great conviction in front of goal, but a slight struggle in the backline.

Fans were left shocked by the lack of defensive activity in the transfer market, with Van Gaal choosing to rely on what he already had available at his new club, rather than spending the clubs funds on a world class centre-back.

The news of a possible Bale buy will both excite and confuse the United faithful, with Wales’ wonderful winger having become one of the world’s most deadly players, but perhaps not the type of acquisition Old Trafford needs right now.

A reported transfer fee of £100m could be more wisely spent on trying to fill the void left at the heart of United’s defence, left there when club legends Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both departed.

Defenders such as World Cup winner, Matt Hummel’s and Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar have been tipped to make the switch to United, but as the January transfer market approaches, talk of Bale’s arrival endures instead.

The former Saints-star would be a superb signing for United, showing further intent to get back to the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden reign, and a commitment to returning to the summit of English and European football. However, it could be another case of one step forward and two steps back, as the reinforcing of United’s defence continues to be disregarded in the transfer market.