Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman has warned Manchester United target Gareth Bale to resist any temptation to return to the Premier League this summer, and urged the Wales international to prove his doubters wrong by stay at the Santiago Bernabeu next season.
The 43-year-old Scouser - who now works as a television pundit for BT Sport - enjoyed four successful years playing for Los Blancos between 1999 and 2003, so is well-informed enough to dish out advice to the under-fire winger.
Bale became a target for unsavoury criticism from some Real Madrid supporters following an underwhelming second season in Spain in 2014/15, but McManaman believes he has what it takes to come out the other side and start reproducing his best form for the Galacticos.
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“Speaking to a lot of the Real Madrid players and staff, I think it [the criticism] has blown over,” he was quoted saying by The Guardian. “Yes, Gareth has been getting a lot of criticism but the majority of the Spanish players have been getting the same type of criticism.
"Sometimes because we’re British and he played for a British team before going over there, we want him to come home for some reason but I would like him to stay out there and prove what a big success he is.
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“He had a great first season, culminating in scoring in two finals and he scored 17 goals last season even with an injury-hit year that meant he probably wasn’t quite physically at his best in the latter part of it.
"I haven’t spoken to him and don’t necessarily know him as well as some people but if he says he is going to stay, then hopefully he will and prove a big success."
McManaman's words of wisdom are unlikely to be welcomed by Manchester United fans, as they hold out hope of Louis van Gaal convincing Bale to join him at Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens this summer.
The Red Devils boss has been heavily linked with a move for the ex-Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur star, despite the fact he has publicly stated his intention to remain in La Liga.
Despite the poor public perception that the Welshman appears to have generated through the media in Spain, it seems as though Bale remains a popular figure within the club, with his team-mates and senior officials.
"I’ve spoken to a lot of the staff at Real and they want him to stay," confirmed McManaman. “I’m going over to Madrid soon and I’ll probably get the lay of the land and see how Gareth is coping.
"If he’s happy, I presume he’ll stay. If he’s unhappy, then there are plenty of suitors.”
During his time at the Bernabeu, McManaman was hugely popular with the club's passionate supporters, even when Florentino Perez tried to sell him following his appointment as president in 2000 in only his second season in Madrid.
But, the retired England international stuck to his guns and proved Perez wrong, eventually winning him round and going on to enjoy a couple more years with Real.
Where do you think Gareth Bale will be playing his football next season? Should he stay and weather the storm at Real Madrid, or quit and come back to the Premier League? Share your thoughts below...
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