Gareth Bale’s representatives told Real Madrid president Florentino Perez that the Welshman would leave for Manchester United if his demands over a central role weren’t met.
That’s the extraordinary claim made by Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, often one to stir the cauldron of speculation surrounding potential blockbuster transfers.
Balague - as quoted by talkSPORT - told how Bale’s future could be linked with the transient stay of Cristiano Ronaldo, as Real will let the latter go if the former can prove that he has the ability to lead Los Blancos forward.
That comes after Bale’s representatives, presumably on the ex-Spurs star’s orders, offered Perez an ultimatum: Give him a role in the centre or lose him to United.
"Quite clearly a lot will depend on Gareth Bale, will Bale be strong enough to take on the responsibility of being the leader of Real Madrid?" Balague said.
"Yes, he’s had important games but he’s missed 20 per cent of Real’s games through injury, so can he did it consistently enough?
"I think he can, I think he’s prepared. I’ve watched Wales play and in Bale I see a guy who is powerful, who can attack on his own and is a leader."
"Bale’s people went to Florentino and told him, ‘unless you give him a central role, we’re going to Manchester United’.
"The promise from the club was that he would get that central role, and the briefing to Rafa Benitez was, ‘I know you’re the coach, but we’ve got a guy here that needs more responsibility.
"Bale is being tested to see if he can replace Ronaldo, and if they feel halfway through the season that is the case, then Ronaldo can go."
Bale to United
Hard as it is to believe, there have been plenty of recent reports linking Bale with a transfer to Old Trafford and as Ronaldo advances in years there’s no doubting who his heir apparent is at this time.
That said, Bale’s supposed threat to leave the Santiago Bernabeu for English shores is a claim only substantiated by the words of Balague.
The idea isn’t preposterous given how he’s naturally played second fiddle to Ronaldo since moving to Real, but fans would be wrong to expect any official confirmation of that either way anytime soon.
One thing is for sure, Real are going to need Bale when Ronaldo does eventually depart. The Wales star is the closest thing world football has to the former Manchester United forward, even if he isn’t quite on his level when it comes to finding the back of the net.
Ronaldo’s Real dream can only last so long as the physical decline begins to take hold. He’s obviously got a good few years in him at the top left, but it might just be that it’s in Perez’s best interests to make someone else the brightest jewel in the Galactico crown sooner rather than later.
United fans, would you rather take Ronaldo or Bale at this moment in time given the choice? Let us know in the comments box below.