Rumours are circulating that Manchester United are planning to smash the world transfer record as they try to prise Gareth Bale from Real Madrid to help Louis van Gaal's revival plan.
Bale became a Real Madrid player in 2013 when he signed for the Spanish giants from Tottenham Hotspur for a world-record transfer fee of £85.3m. He enjoyed a successful first season in Spain, scoring in both the Champions League and Copa del Ray final victories and also helped his side to a third place finish in La Liga, finishing just three points behind eventual champions Atletico Madrid.
There is a feeling that Bale still has a lot to achieve with Real Madrid and a lot to offer in Spain. So would Old Trafford really be a better option than the Bernabeu for Bale?
Manchester United are certainly undergoing a resurgence in form under Van Gaal although they are still a long way from perfection. Considering last season's roller coaster of a season I think most Manchester United supporters will be happy with their current third place position at the half way stage of the season.
They enter the second half of the season with a real chance of challenging Manchester City and Chelsea for the title as the season progresses and Bale could see Van Gaal’s revolution as an opportunity to be part of something big from the outset.
However, Real Madrid are gunning for glory on all fronts and have a very real chance of winning a number of trophies this season, including the Champions League, which United did not qualify for due to their poor 2013/14 campaign.
Bale is a fundamental part of this Real team, which could become the greatest side to ever grace the Bernabeu. They are clearly at the top of their game at present, whereas Manchester United are trying to resurrect their glory years. It could be a risk to give up what he already has in his grasp in Spain.
Could Bale be feeling the strains of living away from home and think that a move back to Britain would solve these problems?
There are no signs that Bale is suffering from homesickness and he is trying his best to adapt to the Spanish way of life. I am sure he does miss home but in this day and age the World is much smaller than it used to be and Bale will be looked after as well as any footballer can be.
The mid-winter break will help as foreign players have the opportunity to go on holiday and recharge their batteries unlike in England when the football season is awash with fixtures and Christmas just doesn’t fit into the busy schedule.
Will Madrid be tempted to cash in on their star?
Madrid's president Florentino Perez has recently been quoted as saying that Bale is going nowhere and he has not received any offer for his star man. Even if Madrid had, I doubt very much that a club like Real would be keen to sell one of their prize assets, certainly not before they had concluded a season that has the potential to offer so much.
Madrid are a buying club, not a selling club, although the prospect of receiving a world-record transfer fee could turn the heads of any owner or president.
Will Madrid try and prize United’s player of the season David de Gea away from Old Trafford as part of the deal which will solve their long-term goalkeeper issues? The United shot stopper has many admirers amongst the top European clubs and United will surely have to resist a number of enquiries in 2015.
Certainly Manchester United and Van Gaal will be admirers of Bale and would love him to be a part of the club's future but are they in a position at present to smash the World transfer fee record and, more importantly, are Real Madrid prepared to relinquish one of their greatest assets to one of their great European rivals?
Manchester United must know that they need to improve in defence so to spend this kind of money on an attacker could be deemed foolish when a fraction of the price would land them a defender, or two, who could significantly improve their squad. When they have qualified for the Champions League they will have far better bargaining powers to be able to go and attract the best players in the world again.
Bale would definitely improve United’s team, of that there is no doubt. However, I personally feel that any immediate move is perhaps too soon for both parties but the idea may well start to gain more momentum in the summer if United continue their resurgence and Real end their season with the trophy haul that they are expecting.