Gareth Bale has been linked with a sensational move to Manchester United in the British press on Friday in what surely has to go down as one of this year's most unlikely and farfetched transfer rumours.
Real Madrid winger Bale became the most expensive footballer in history when he completed a world-record £85 million move from Tottenham Hotspur last summer and won the Champions League during his very first campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, despite the Wales international appearing to thrive as a member of Carlo Ancelotti's star-studded squad in the Spanish capital, the Daily Star claim that Manchester United - who are believed to have been very interested in acquiring Bale during the early stages of David Moyes' disastrous reign in charge at Old Trafford - have begun planning another attempt to sign the player with their hopes of completing a return for illustrious teammate Cristiano Ronaldo becoming increasingly futile.
To further back up this particular claim, the Star - citing unnamed sources in Spain - report that Bale is not having quite the same impact in a Real side that was subject to further major additions in the summer transfer window and now could even find his starting berth in danger with manager Carlo Ancelotti supposedly internally expressing concerns over his lack of defensive nous.
At first glance, suggestions that the 25-year-old - who is said to earn around £300,000-per-week at Real - is yet to settle this season appear somewhat bizarre when you consider that he has already notched four goals in six La Liga games as well as one in the Champions League.
Real as a team have endured somewhat of a mixed start, however, with Ancelotti's side already four points adrift of league leaders and fierce rivals Barcelona and having also laboured to an unconvincing win over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets on Wednesday night.
While this rumour would seem speculative at best, what surely cannot be in doubt is the financial capability of Manchester United to complete a future transfer of this magnitude.
Despite ongoing concerns regarding the ownership model of the Glazer family,11 the 20-time top-flight champions posted record revenues in 2014 and their intention to spend heavily to overhaul a weak squad following the arrival of Louis van Gaal was made unmistakably clear with the £59.7 million signing of Angel di Maria and the loan capture of world-class striker Radamel Falcao that could be made permanent next year provided the Colombian impresses and does not suffer an unfortunate recurrence of the devastating knee injury that saw him miss the recent World Cup.
If Van Gaal is indeed given yet more sizeable sums with which to continue to improve his first-team options - and all the signs have indicated that he will - then it could certainly be argued that the experienced Dutchman desperately needs to prioritise the capture of at least two new defenders.
The departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left Manchester United very short indeed at the back and, despite the arrival of Argentina international Marco Rojo, it is an area that has been ruthlessly exposed already this season and certainly requires further attention as soon as possible.
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