The win was Madrid’s third in a row, and fourth in five years, and Gareth Bale has been involved in all four of those triumphs. He scored the crucial go-ahead goal in 2014, fired Madrid to the 2016 final with the only goal of the semi-final, and tonight came off the bench to score twice and give Madrid the win, with his first being one of the greatest goals the competition has ever seen.
Yet, believe it or not, Gareth Bale is not happy at Real Madrid. Injury, managerial preference, a difficulty with the Spanish lifestyle have all been an issue. The Welshman hasn’t played more than 2000 minutes in La Liga since 2014/15, a damning statistic. In the afterglow of his impactful display in Kyiv, Bale was very candid about his situation in the Spanish capital.
“I need to be playing week in, week out and that hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another. I have to sit down in the summer and discuss my future with my agent and take it from there,” were Bale’s words after the full-time whistle.
Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo left Madrid in the summer, and so many expected that Bale would rise up and finally claim his status as the star of the side without a manager who didn’t trust him and the superstar blocking his path.
Instead, Bale has had his most underwhelming season yet as he’s remain mostly fit and has had star status yet failed to produce. 7 goals and just 2 assists are a poor return for a player of such immense talent. He’s troubles have been such that the Madrid fans are turning on him now; in a recent Clásico defeat to Barcelona he was withdrawn to a chorus of whistles from the Santiago Bernabeu. A humiliating incident which has caused his agent to speak out against the club:
Barnett, Bale’s agent: “This generation of Real fans will be talking about Gareth’s goals for years to come. Frankly they should be ashamed of themselves. Gareth deserves the greatest of respect. The way the Real fans have treated Gareth is nothing short of a disgrace”.
— Arancha Rodríguez (@AranchaMOBILE) March 4, 2019
It now seems highly likely that Gareth Bale will leave Real Madrid this summer, but where could he go?
They say you should never go home, but nobody tells Gareth Bale what to do except Gareth Bale. And whilst he was forged in Southampton, and has conquered the world in Madrid, it was Spurs where he learned how to become a man and the place he would most likely see as ‘home’, leaving only because his individual ambition exceeded the club’s capabilities.
But that’s not the case now. Spurs have reached the Champions League in each of the last three seasons. This isn’t a fluke anymore. They have a brilliant manager in Mauricio Pochettino, a world-class striker in Harry Kane and some of the best talent of any side in the Premier League. All they need is another elite player, a superstar, to help lift them to the next level of actually winning trophies.
And who better for that than Gareth Bale? Four Champions Leagues in five years, one Copa del Rey, one La Liga title. The kid knows how to lead a side to victory, he’s done it enough times for Los Blancos before his current woes began.
Imagine him returning home a proven winner, taking that no.11 shirt back (sorry Erik) and rediscovering his best form whilst simultaneously lifting the entire Spurs squad up to the elite level their new stadium would demand? It’d be magic. It’d also be a dream because there’s no way Daniel Levy would ever countenance paying the transfer fee Madrid would demand, much less the wages Bale would command.
Realistic: Manchester United
This is the one, right? It seems inevitable, in many ways. United have been trying to sign Gareth Bale since he was an elven-looking, spiky-haired youngster but for one reason or another the moves never materialised. They’ve tried repeatedly to take him from Madrid, but he’s never been interested. Now, however? Now you can see him jumping at the chance.
For United, this move is a no-brainer. First of all Bale is an absolute icon and a marketing dream should recover anything like his best form. That alone would make him an attractive prospect for Manchester United who long to have globally-recognised superstars wear their famous red shirt. Bale would go up alongside Pogba was one of the faces of the club,
On the pitch it’s a wicked fit, how could it not be? Bale plays hard and fast and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has proven that United are at their best when they play hard and fastst. The Premier League is physical, so is Bale. United need a right-winger, and Bale is a right-winger. He’d play every game of consequence if he was fit and get the full superstar treatment he’s never had at Madrid.
Imagine him flying on that right-wing, sending in crosses for Romelu Lukaku? Or leading a devastating counter-attack alongside Marcus Rashford? Or cutting infield to blast the ball at goal with that Mjolnir of a left foot? It’d be pure mayhem for opponents.
The finances make sense too. United have more money than sense. They could easily afford whatever mad fee Madrid would ask, the same for wages. And he’d be adored by the fans in a way he never has been at Madrid. The only issue would be convincing Anthony Martial to move shirt numbers again. But besides that, it’s ideal. To go to the club of Ryan Giggs, take Ryan Giggs’ shirt number, and then become the biggest player in the Premier League? Perfect fit.
When it comes to Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid, the main problem is that his reputation is still so enormous that there’s only a handful of places he could actually go. And not all of them make sense. But PSG? PSG don’t make sense in a way that makes a whole load of sense.
Think about it.
PSG are clearly moving away from Edinson Cavani as their attacking focal point and shifting Kylian Mbappé being their main goalscorer. This means he moves into a central role, so who fills his spot on the right? Sure, Di Maria is there now, but as good as he is the reason he got shunted out of Real Madrid in the first place was because of his lack of superstar status.
Bale would bring that in spades. He’d also be a huge shot in the arm for PSG’s image in the English-speaking world (which right now is mostly talking about farmers and financial fair play). He’d fit in with PSG’s easygoing dressing room culture and would have a boatload of fun in a lightning quick attack alongside Neymar and Mbappé. It’d work, but it’s a wildcard because PSG’s focus appears to be elsewhere this summer (also because UEFA may actually enforce FFP).
Squawka Suggests: Napoli
Gareth Bale’s two best seasons in Madrid were his first two, playing under Carlo Ancelotti. Well, Ancelotti is now manager of Napoli, and a reunion between the two could be incredibly prosperous. The move would give Bale another country to conquer, which is something you sense he really wants right now, and it would provide him with the opportunity to join a massive club with a rabid fanbase who would absolutely worship him.
On the pitch, Bale would surely be the lightning bolt of quality that would lift Napoli to the point where they could overcome Juventus and win Serie A. Sure, Napoli may sell some stars this summer but imagine Bale playing on the right of their front three with Lorenzo Insigne or José Callejón on the left. It’d be lethal, no matter who was up front. King Carlo would bring a genuine bonafide superstar to the south of Italy to rip Serie A to shreds. Also; Bale vs. Cristiano at the top of Serie A? Can you spell box office? This is the move to make, Gareth!