Almost a year ago now, Gareth Bale’s iconic overhead kick in Kiev contributed to Real Madrid’s supporters giving him another chance.
Coming off the bench to win the Champions League final for Los Blancos showed an impeccable sense of timing from the Welshman who, in the lead up to the European showpiece, seemed destined to be moved on.
An injury-hit 2017/18 campaign as well as poor individual form had virtually sealed Bale’s exit… until that goal.
With Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving in the wake of the final, the wide man was given a lifeline by Julen Lopetegui, but unfortunately for him, he’s not stepped into Ronaldo’s shoes in quite the way the club hoped.
Goals have been few and far between, and performance levels have been sporadic at best. His sleeve cutter celebration earlier in this campaign was heavily frowned upon by the powers that be too.
Fast forward to the present, and Bale was roundly booed throughout Real’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Athletic Club.
He didn’t actually play that badly, but when the Santiago Bernabeu turn on you like that, it really is time to go.
Zidane, back at the helm again, has shown no faith in the player either and Bale’s protestations that he doesn’t want to leave the Spanish capital will fall on deaf ears. Whilst he’s still worth some money, the club want him gone.
Indeed, Florentino Perez is so desperate to offload Bale, that it’s believed he will even consider a loan deal in the first instance. For a player whom Los Blancos considered ‘world class’ when they signed him, that’s some fall from grace.
The question is, where will he end up?
Looking at such a move on a purely financial footing, there are clearly only a handful of clubs that could afford his wages and transfer fee.
He’s never immersed himself in the Spanish culture nor made a decent enough effort to learn the language – another bone of contention with the Madridistas – so that theoretically, but not definitely, rules out moves to Germany, Italy or France.
In the Premier League, a swap deal that involves wantaway Christian Eriksen at Tottenham Hotspur isn’t a suggestion without merit.
Though Daniel Levy is notoriously tight with money, surely even he could see the positives from bringing Bale back to his spiritual home.
Spurs supporters still regard him as ‘one of their own,’ so one would expect that such a deal, were it to happen, would be met with universal approval.
Such a big-name hire could also stem the flow of other players wanting out, and the addition of Bale after his experience in Spain can arguably help take the north Londoners to the next level too.
Manchester United were allegedly looking at Bale during Jose Mourinho’s tenure, and it’s understood that the player wasn’t averse to that courting.
Clearly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the biggest of overhauls to conduct at Old Trafford, and if three or four big names are to leave, then exponents of equal standing are needed as replacements.
Bale in for Anthony Martial isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, and we know that United will back the Norwegian in the summer transfer market, so will Ole make the same noises his predecessor did?
Arsenal are out of the picture for obvious reasons, and Liverpool’s front line is amongst the best in Europe, so he’ll not be heading to either of those.
Which leaves only Chelsea or Manchester City.
Both teams could certainly afford him, but he wouldn’t really fit into the Blues’ set-up at this juncture.
Pep having to offload players such as Leroy Sane to make way for the welsh flyer isn’t out of the question, but it’s unlikely to please City’s fan base.