As every day passes, transfer rumours are rife about numerous players who are linked with moves to Manchester United in newspapers and online publications – and it is still almost six weeks until the summer transfer window actually opens on July 1st.
One of the main lines of discussion currently is Gareth Bale, and the will he, won’t he, return to the Premier League – with United tipped up as a most likely destination. Bale has suffered somewhat of a second season syndrome at Real Madrid, after scoring crucial goals last term which helped the Spanish giants to Champions League and Copa del Rey glory. The 25 year-old Welshman has not performed to the same level in this campaign – and sections of the Madrid faithful are unhappy with his efforts on the pitch, particularly following his display against Juventus in a game where Real were widely tipped to win.
Bale himself however, is said to be happy with life in the Spanish capital – and has been quoted that he ‘is determined to make the move work’. However, the powerbrokers of both Madrid and United could have other ideas to engineer a deal this summer – provided that Real are keen on selling their valuable asset.
The side issue with Bale and United is the ongoing saga of Old Trafford custodian, David De Gea. The Spanish international keeper has been United’s standout performer over the last two seasons – with Player of the Year awards on both occasions as confirmation. Manchester United are in the difficult position of trying to tie De Gea down to a new contract, but the 24 year-old is stalling – with Real apparently waiting in the wings.
United are obviously reluctant to let a keeper of immense talent as De Gea go, so Ed Woodward could attempt to play ‘hard ball’ with Madrid and try to gain something in return, i.e. Bale. There are many United fans who have displeasure at Real seemingly taking their pick of the Old Trafford squad at leisure, so if De Gea was to leave – as looks very likely – then at least the United fan base would be appeased somewhat by getting something off Madrid in return.
Okay, mythical scenario here. Manchester United get Bale, but where would he fit in?! The Reds already have a plethora of wing talent, with Angel Di Maria, Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata being used in a wider role in the latest campaign. Consider that Memphis Depay is also arriving from PSV Eindhoven this summer, so the competition is fierce. United boss Louis van Gaal has stated on numerous occasions about bringing balance into the United squad, but surely that does not mean requiring six wide midfielders?
Januzaj however, is likely to be loaned out next season, and Mata could be used more centrally to accommodate Bale, but could the alleged move for the Welshman, in reality be a smokescreen for signings to bolster another area of the squad – and to keep everyone off the real scent? Time will tell on that.
One thing that’s certain though is Manchester United will be very active in the upcoming summer window. Bolstered financially with a new kit deal from Adidas, and a likely return to the financial gravy train that is the UEFA Champions League, United can be expected to spend heavily to try and return to the pinnacle of the English game – and have several holes to fill to achieve their ambitions. Will Gareth Bale be a part of those plans? We will have to wait until July at the earliest to find out.