The Manchester Evening News have this afternoon claimed that talks between Manchester United and Real Madrid over Gareth Bale are very much on track.
Since having enjoyed a stellar, relatively injury-free first two seasons at the Bernabeu following his move from Premier League outfit Tottenham in 2013, Welsh superstar Bale has since become something of a running joke amongst fans in Spain due to his constant injury troubles.
The 2016/17 season marked a particularly difficult period in the 28-year-old’s career, with Bale having managed just 17 La Liga starts across the entire campaign, as ankle and calf problems kept him out of action for over 4 months combined.
The recently-finished 2017/18 campaign saw Bale handed starts in just 20 of Los Blancos’ league outings, along with just 3 starts in the Champions League.
However, while injuries have once again hampered Bale in patches, a telling factor this season has been that, even when fully fit, especially over the last couple of months, the Southampton youth product was often nevertheless left out of Real’s starting XI by (former) manager Zinedine Zidane.
As such, rumours linking Bale with an imminent departure from the Spanish capital this summer have been rife in the media over recent months, with Manchester United the side most heavily-touted as a potential destination.
Tottenham and Bayern Munich have both also been named as suitors of Bale, with reports emanating from Spain last month having suggested that Spurs had taken the lead in the race for the Welshman.
Following the Champions League final back in May, during which Bale of course emerged from the bench to play a match-winning role with a brace, many have since called into question whether Real Madrid may change their stance with regards to the availability of their explosive wide-man, after it had been widely assumed that Los Blancos would be open to selling Bale this summer.
Bale himself cast major doubt on his future at the Bernabeu in the immediate aftermath of Real’s latest European triumph, though, when he admitted:
‘For me personally, I feel like I should be playing week in, week out and I haven’t been.’
‘I’ve been doing well, scoring goals, but I haven’t been playing as much as I would like so, as I said, I am going to have to sit down over the summer and seriously consider what we do next.’
Old Trafford bound?
But, after stories linking the 70-time capped international with an imminent Real exit died down considerably over recent weeks, the aforementioned report from the Manchester Evening News this afternoon has cast the Welshman’s name firmly back into the spotlight.
This is due to claims that negotiations between Manchester United and Los Blancos over Bale have reached an ‘advanced’ stage, after Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward identified the former Spurs man as the ideal addition to the Red Devils’ squad.
Mourinho is said to be keen on adding another dimension to United’s right wing for next season, with Chelsea’s Willian also being considered.
However, crucially, MEN’s report also states that the final decision regarding his future will come down to Bale himself, with the explosive wide-man waiting to hold talks with new Real boss Julen Lopetegui over his place at the club.