Manchester United have received a boost in their pursuit of Real Madrid star Gareth Bale after a source admitted to The Sun that an agreement between the two parties could be reached.
However, the same paper report that Barcelona’s Neymar is unlikely to move to Old Trafford despite United’s heavy interest in the Brazilian.
But the opportunity to sign one of the La Liga superstars will be enough to delight United supporters. The club haven’t had a genuine rock star since the days of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Bale would certainly lift the depressed spirit around the red side of Manchester.
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The Welshman’s season has been hampered by persistent injuries - a calf problem has kept him out since January 17 - and Madrid are reportedly willing to make a deal happen in order to recoup most of their £86 million outlay.
According to the source, Bale is more likely to move than Neymar, who is set to sign a new contract at the Camp Nou.
The Madrid insider told The Sun: “United definitely need a player like Neymar - they haven’t really had a genuine superstar since Cristiano Ronaldo or David Beckham.
“There’s no doubt the interest from them is serious, and commercially they would make the money back on him if they met the clause. It all comes down to whether the player wants that move.
“But United signing Bale is the more likely deal, and maybe it is time for him to move on from Madrid.
“Bale at Old Trafford seems a more natural fit.”
Clearly, the source doesn’t believe the likely absence of Champions League football will dissuade Bale from joining United.
The Red Devils have certainly seen their appeal plummet since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013 and it would appear the only way they can regain the allure to attract the world’s best talent is by replacing current boss Louis van Gaal.
Even that might not be enough. United will struggle to compete with Manchester City in the summer because the Citizens have the funds to spend extravagantly.
The arrival of Pep Guardiola in the summer will also persuade many players to the Etihad Stadium.
United now know how the rest of the Premier League felt during the Ferguson era, when the Red Devils were able to entice Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney ahead of their rivals.
Bale could be persuaded to join if United can guarantee he won’t be the only big-name signing.
But it would still be a stain on the former Tottenham man’s CV if he were to last just three seasons at Los Blancos - a club many players view as reaching the pinnacle - before returning to England.
It would certainly be seen as a declining move unless United can perform a miraculous turnaround next year.