Why Gareth Bale would be the ultimate modern Man Utd signing
Gareth Bale is set to leave Real Madrid this summer and is odds-on to make a summer transfer to Manchester United with some bookmakers.
If that deal comes off, it would be the ultimate indication of United’s current problems.
Bale failed to get off the bench during Madrid’s final La Liga game of the season, with coach Zinedine Zidane saying the Welshman would not have got on the pitch even if he had a fourth substitution available to him.
Those sentiments seem to be the final nail in the coffin for Bale’s Bernabeu career, not least because he had earlier disappeared down the tunnel without taking part in the post-season lap of honour.
But United now seem intent on making him Alexis Sanchez 2.0.
Bale has long been a top transfer target for the Red Devils, who wanted to sign him when he first moved to Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. At that point, and at various points since, he would have been a great signing for United. But now? We’re not so sure.
The former Spurs star will celebrate his 30th birthday in July. That milestone is unlikely to signal any alleviation in the injuries he has struggled with throughout his time in Spain.
Even putting injuries aside, it is difficult to see how United would consider to be man for the moment.
Maybe he would stay fit and prove to be a decent job for United. But even in those circumstances, it is unlikely he would offer the best value for the money he would cost.
It is nearly 18 months since they signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. The Chile international, who is just seven months older than Bale, has looked a shadow of his former self since arriving at Old Trafford.
In the meantime, his bumper wages have caused all sorts of upheaval, not least the hold up with David De Gea’s contract renewal.
The Sanchez move was symptomatic of a growing trend for the club. Nemanja Matic and Bastian Schweinsteiger are a couple of other examples of players United signed about five years later than they needed to.
These are not bad players. Bale is an excellent player. But United used to sign such players well before their peak and enjoy their best years.
How many times to Sir Alex Ferguson sell an established star to the shock of fans and neutrals, only for the player to struggle to recapture their former glories elsewhere?
United are now the buying club in these sort of deals, rather than the sellers.
That demonstrates the failures in United’s recruitment policy. Instead of scouting and signing players who are about to make themselves household names, the Old Trafford hierarchy seem intent to sign recognisable names at considerable expense in transfer fees, wages or both, even if the reason they are available is because they are on the wane.
It is difficult to see the prospective Bale signing as anything other than the total manifestation of those failings.