With the prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford this summer seemingly possible, Sir Alex Ferguson should instead opt for Gareth Bale over Ronaldo to enhance United's chances in Europe and England next season.
Another product of Southampton, Bale, since the turn of the year, has developed into one of the Premier League's top players and appears to be at the peak of his powers.
Improving from set-pieces and headers, he has drawn comparisons with Ronaldo on numerous occasions. He has managed to score 21 goals in his first 99 league appearances, two more than Ronaldo in the same number of games.
No one will ever doubt Ronaldo's success at Old Trafford, but Bale is five years younger to Ronaldo and could be equally important to the Red Devils as Ronaldo was during his six years in Manchester.
The story this season:
Starting slowly this season, Bale has reached 21 goals - 16 of those in the league - in no time with important goals coming at the right time, including the one against West Ham at Upton Park and his sensational strike at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, has managed 43 goals in 43 appearances, but that comes by virtue of his superior talent and the relatively easier opposition in Spain. Bale, however, is expected to reach the same standards in the coming years, therefore signing him would be feasible at this point of time.
The Welsh connection:
On his arrival in England, Bale was compared with Ryan Giggs. However, the Welsh legend is a completely different player now. Bale and Giggs share one common trait, their ability to run past defenders from the left side. Bale's hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter Milan and Giggs's memorable goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-finals are apt illustrations of the similarity the two posses. With raw pace and power, Bale really could be the next Giggs, something United fans needed for years - even if there is still really "only one Ryan Giggs".
Possibilty of a deal in the balance:
United are sure to be in for a winger if Antonio Valencia or Nani leave the club this summer, while Wilfried Zaha is one for the future. Adequate funds in the range of £50m could seem sufficient for Bale; Ronaldo, on the other hand, is sure to cost much more and the fact that his return could be delayed till the expiration of his contract at Real Madrid.
However, the recent scuffle between Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and Ferguson over the Zeki Fryers deal could prove costly to Manchester United. Also Spurs have been reluctant in selling their big players to English opposition, most notably their refusal to sell Luka Modric to Chelsea. But even then, a big money offer from the Red Devils could see Bale at Old Trafford next season.
Bale serves as a long-term option to United, something which Ronaldo at this moment does not, thus Sir Alex may be inclined to get him before Ronaldo.
A trio of Rooney, Van Persie and Bale could be immense in the coming years.
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