Manchester United interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken of the need for the club to recruit “quality players” in the summer but would not be drawn on the possibility of signing Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.
Solskjaer was brought in to replace Jose Mourinho in December until the end of the season, although he is widely expected to become their next permanent manager after winning 14 of his 18 matches in charge.
Bale, 29, still has three years left on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Zinedine Zidane’s return to the club last Monday has led to speculation regarding his future.
As the Spanish Football Podcast observed, the Welshman and the Frenchman did not have a positive relationship:
Zidane’s return would surely mean (if this wasn’t certain already) that Gareth Bale will leave Real Madrid this summer. By the end of last season their relationship was non-existent.
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) March 11, 2019
Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, told BBC 5 Live Sport the winger wants to finish his career in the Spanish capital but also noted the treatment he receives from sections of Los Blancos’ support:
He has contributed 101 goals and 63 assists in 223 appearances for Real, including three UEFA Champions League final goals and another in a Copa del Rey final.
However, he has also had periods in which he has struggled for form and fitness, and the Santiago Bernabeu have been vocal in their criticism of him during such times, with jeers and whistles at Bale not uncommon.
This season, Bale has notched 13 goals and assisted five, but many hoped he would kick on following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, which he has not managed.
Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News believes United would be better served not going for him:
Bale is a proven top-class talent, but because of his injury issues, he has not reached 40 appearances in all competitions across a single campaign.
After handing 30-year-old Alexis Sanchez a basic wage packet of £350,000 per week and seeing the Chilean score just five goals in his 41 subsequent appearances, United can ill afford to splash out on another high-profile player who’s past his prime, especially when it’s unclear what kind of return they’ll get on their investment.
United will need to strengthen this summer if they’re to challenge for the Premier League title next season, but Bale could be an expensive gamble. It may be better for them to consider other targets.