What next for Gareth Bale?
The Welshman could quit Real Madrid this summer
Rewind a few years and Gareth Bale had the world at his feet.
After setting the Premier League alight, he earned his dream move to Real Madrid, where he’s won four Champions Leagues and one La Liga title.
But a combination of injuries, clashes with managers and an apparent disinterest in football has seen his career begin to stagnate. He may still be a key player for Wales – who are 80/1 outsiders for Euro 2021 glory – though he’s no longer feared as he once was.
Bale’s been linked with a move away this summer, assuming football gets back on track following coronavirus, and we’ve taken a look at what his next step could be.
Return to England?
Bale enjoyed a stunning final season at Tottenham before leaving in 2013 and if he could rediscover his form, fitness and desire of old, every top Premier League club would happily break the bank to sign him.
With his explosive pace and his ability to score from anywhere, he was capable of winning a game by himself.
But save for the occasional moment of magic, those days seem to be behind him and reported attitude problems, mounting injury issues and extortionate wages will undoubtedly put most suitors off.
And where would he even fit in?
Liverpool’s front three are arguably the best in the world and Jurgen Klopp has no intention of replacing them, particularly for somebody on the wrong side of 30.
Manchester United and Chelsea have adopted a different philosophy under new leadership, opting to promote youth products and buy players with potential, rather than splashing out on marquee players with little sell-on value.
Manchester City won’t risk signing an injury-prone player having struggled without Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane for the majority of this season.
And with their impending Champions League ban, they may not be able to attract Bale without a place in Europe’s headline competition, which would likely rule out Arsenal and former club Spurs as well.
The Chinese Super League became a viable option for talented players in recent years following an influx of money and Bale was linked with a move to Asia in January.
But the government have introduced a wage cap of £49,000-a-week for foreign players, which has seen many European-based players come back.
The eye-watering wages were the main draw for upping sticks to a league with less quality so he’s unlikely to consider uprooting his life and moving to China for such a significant pay cut.
Stay at Real Madrid
Let’s face, Bale is living the life in Madrid.
He’s on good money in a hot country, with golf courses galore. And he’s still playing reasonably regularly for Real.
With two years left on his contract, he’s probably not in a huge rush to leave and while he’s fit he’ll always be the first name on the team sheet for Wales.
A move would only materialise if he was forced out or if he received an offer that was impossible to turn down. He’s previously been linked to other top European teams, including Bayern Munich and PSG, but they’d have to move on one of their higher earners before committing to signing Bale.
And with the state of football currently up in the air, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Bale will still be a Real Madrid player next season, whenever that may be.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication