David Moyes last night steered clear of reports linking Manchester United with a move for Gareth Bale. This came about because of sources at Tottenham suggesting a club other than Real Madrid have tabled an offer for him.
After the disaster that was publicising the club’s pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, I understand why Moyes is keeping quiet. But that doesn’t mean I believe him.
When you think about it, United are the only realistic club that fit the profile of this ‘mystery Bale bidder’. Few sides on the planet could give Real Madrid competition for a player valued at between £80 million and £100 million, and even less have any reason to want Gareth at this stage of the window.
Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco could all easily afford to sign the Welshman, of course. But they have all done most of their summer business already, and the late addition of a headline-grabber such as Bale would create more problems than it would on-field benefits, as far as jugging so many big names is concerned.
That leaves United. Despite speculation to the contrary, I can very much believe that they are indeed the ‘other team’ in the race for Bale’s signature.
And, assuming that’s the case, I think the winger could be insane to pick Real Madrid over them.
It will come across as a biased standpoint, given my time at Old Trafford, but hear me out.
Real Madrid are of course an extremely glamorous and trendy club to join. The invitation usually only goes out to those footballers considered as elite. And yes, if Bale joins them, he will make more money than even most top footballers can dream of thanks to Real and Barcelona’s comfortable financial positioning in La Liga.
After all that, however, comes the reality of such a move. Because while I rate Bale highly, the fact is he isn’t yet proven at that world class, top three players in the world level.
He looked awesome for half a Champions League campaign before fizzing out beyond the group stages, and has had one admittedly-superb domestic season.
Don’t get me wrong: I have faith that Bale can be even better than that, for longer than that. But to jump to the unchartered waters of the Spanish league – a huge contrast from the ebb and flow of the Premier League – is a risk not worth taking right now.
Not only that, but Madrid fans of course have huge – perhaps unjustified – expectations of their club. Not just of their performances, but also of their image and persona off the pitch. When British stars arrive at the Bernabeu, even more expectations are thrust upon their shoulders, almost as if the Madrid faithful expect them to prove they deserve to be considered a Galactico.
Then there's stability. Real change managers at an alarming rate. So many other top players have fallen out of favour five minutes after joining the club. Moyes has obviously been groomed as the long-term successor to Alex Ferguson for years.
A good example of timing such a move to Real from England is of course Cristiano Ronaldo. When he joined United, he was nothing more than a hot prospect – almost like Isco and Asier Illarramendi, who both joined the club recently, are now.
It was Sir Alex that shaped, moulded and nurtured Ronaldo into a true footballing force. He was consistently a world-beater for a good few seasons before making the big-money jump, and of course at that stage it was a seamless one. Ronaldo has been worth at least 10 times his record transfer fee ever since.
That’s why Bale should follow suit. If he wants to play for Real Madrid one day, he should join Real Madrid – from Manchester United.
If United do turn out to be interested, Bale should head up North where I believe he would benefit from the better wages, extra silverware and Champions League football that Robin van Persie has since he left Arsenal. He would also be that marquee signing Moyes and the board have desperately wanted to legitimise this new era for the Red Devils.
Again, most people will assume this as bias but United really would be the best place for Bale to be come September. I think it’s a lock that he will not be at Tottenham when the transfer window slams shut next week, but leaving the Premier League entirely isn’t the best thing for him just yet.
If he really does want to be a Galactico, I am sure Real would pay as much as £150m for him in two years, once he has won silverware and set the Champions League ablaze for more than five minutes.