Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has asked executive vice-president Ed Woodward to try and sign Gareth Bale, a move the club are willing to back to the tune of an incredible world-record transfer offer worth €150 million.
That is according to Spanish newspaper AS, who give Guillem Balague's story of United's interest the front page lead today despite Madrid's insistence they have no interest in selling the Welsh wing wizard anytime soon.
Van Gaal is reportedly desperate to bag Bale because he believes the forward can be the genuine difference-maker he needs to close ground on Manchester City and Chelsea, with money close to no option if it helps the Red Devils wrestle back Premier League supremacy.
United have the muscle to launch record bid
The Red Devils have proved since Van Gaal took charge that they're prepared to spend big on targets the Dutchman identifies, just look at last summer's club-record £150m. United smashed the British transfer record to sign another Bernabeu darling in Angel di Maria for £59.7m, so genuine interest in bringing Bale back to the Premier League should come as little surprise.
Woodward may have the resources to sign a player of Bale's calibre, but persuading the 25-year-old to leave Madrid for Old Trafford represents another challenge entirely.
Would Bale be interested?
Bale has enjoyed nothing short of a tremendous start to life in the Spanish capital, proving in just 18 months in Madrid that he can deliver in the biggest matches under intense pressure.
Madrid are acutely aware of Bale's ability and placed a whopping €1billion release clause in a contract that runs until 2019, which means United would need an epic change of heart from either player or club to land their top transfer target in 2015.
Beyond that obstacle you have to question whether Bale would choose United if he decided to come back to England.
Chelsea and Manchester City look better equipped to sustain long-term success and have the budget to match any demands he would make on personal terms, so despite Van Gaal's wishes chasing this deal still looks like pie in the sky stuff from United at this stage.
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