Gareth Bale: five potential destinations for the unwanted Real Madrid man
China, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all linked with a move for 30-year-old Welshman
Gareth Bale's six-year stay at Real Madrid looks to be edging closer to an end after Zinedine Zidane confirmed "the club is working on his departure".
Zidane confirmed to reporters that the 30-year-old Welshman was left out of Real's squad that lost to Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup in Houston on Saturday as the Spanish club were in negotiations with an unnamed club regarding Bale's transfer.
Here, we take a look at five potential destinations for Bale this summer:
Given Bale's exorbitant wages - the Welsh forward is reported to earn around €17 million (Dh70m) a year after tax - plus his history of injury problems, China would appear a most likely destination for the former Tottenham Hotspur player.
The Chinese Super League has the riches to match Bale's wage demands and a mandate to attract the best players, but one stumbling block could be a transfer fee. Chinese clubs have to pay 100 per cent tax on transfers, and with Real looking to recoup something close to the then world-record £85 million they paid to sign Bale from Spurs six years ago, any move to the Far East could be dependent on the selling club lowering their price.
With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery both calling time on their careers after helping the Bavarian giants seal a seventh consecutive Bundesliga shield last term, Bale would seem a perfect fit for one of wide berths in Bayern's three-man attack.
A loan move to the Allianz Arena has long been mooted, and the prospect of Bale playing off the prolific Robert Lewandoski with Serge Gnarby attacking from the other wing is an exciting one, but Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has repeatedly said the club will not pay over the odds for any player, particularly those the wrong side of 30. If a loan can be agreed - something Bale's representatives have explicitly refused thus far - then Lewandoski, Gnarby and Bale could form a potent attacking troika in 2019/20.
United have held a long-term interest in Bale and were keen to take him off English rivals Tottenham in 2013 before the Welshman opted to join Real Madrid.
Bale is well-known to Premier League audiences, particularly for his devastating form during his final two seasons at Spurs, with one performance at Old Trafford, in September 2012, when Bale scored a superb solo effort in a 3-2 win, fondly remembered by both sets of fans.
It remains to be seen whether Bale would countenance a return to the Premier League, particularly to a United team who won't be playing Uefa Champions League football this term.
For United, wages and transfer fee would not be a problem; age and injuries might.
Spurs fans are divided on whether they want to see the return of a player who did much to establish the North London club as regular qualifiers of the Champions League.
A nostalgic look back on Bale's conversion from promising left-back to prolific forward came with its own defining moment - the hat-trick in a Champions League group game against Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Bale scored 55 times in 203 matches for Spurs, however, a pragmatic view is that the team full of youthful attacking verve would have to be altered to cater towards Bale's strengths.
Chirstian Eriksen, Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Son Heung-min carried Tottenham to a first Champions League final in May. The prevailing sense among many fans is that signing Bale would be a step backwards. Spurs are also unlikely to break their strict wage structure to fund a permanent move.
Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, had some choice words for Zidane after the Frenchman left Bale out of the match against Bayern, subsequently telling media the club were in talks to sell the Welshman, as "disgraceful".
Bale is not a popular member of the dressing room and even less so with the Bernabeu faithful, with the Welshman's apparent lack of interest to speak Spanish, in public at least, particularly irksome.
But it is easy to forget that Bale is a world-class player who has achieved great success in the Spanish capital. Among the Welshman's 100 goals include three in four Champions League final triumphs - including that overhead kick against Liverpool - a Copa del Rey winner's medal - including that Copa del Rey final winner against Barcelona - as well as La Liga and Fifa Club World Cup gold medals.
Should he end up staying in Madrid, a player of Bale's quality is always worth calling on.
Updated: July 22, 2019 10:34 AM