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Let’s talk about Gareth Bale and Manchester United

We’re still in the land of pure speculation, but hey, there’s nothing else going on right now.

International Champions Cup 2017 - Real Madrid v Manchester United Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Life comes at you fast. Just yesterday, we were mocking the inevitability of Gareth Bale-to-Manchester United resurfacing again, in the wake of Kylian Mbappe’s reported move to Real Madrid. And here we are today, fulfilling our own prophecy. You either die a hero, etc., and so on.

Anyway, let’s Bale!

First of all, the reading. There’s an interesting piece from the generally-pretty-decent Miguel Delaney over on the Independent. The full thing is well worth a read, but the key points for our purposes are as follows.

One, United are interested, and have been for a while:

there is absolutely no denying United’s long-term interest in Bale. It is one of the few things we can say for certain in this whole saga.

Two, Ed Woodward is being very Ed Woodward about it all:

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward does want to bring in a “star” every summer and his “dream” has long been to bring Cristiano Ronaldo “home”… but Bale - and, it must be said, Neymar - have always closely followed.

And three, Bale himself quite like the idea:

While Bale has wanted to give the Bernabeu at least another year, it is also known that he only wants to go to Old Trafford if he does leave.

Now, at this point we need to remind ourselves of the Second Rule of the Transfer Window, which is that a report like this can be reported with 100% accuracy and still, ultimately, come to nothing. This is an account of preferences and information from sources. It’s not a guarantee.

(The First Rule? Not sure. Probably something about Wesley Sneijder.)

But at the same time, it does all make a certain amount of sense. As Delaney’s points out, there was a question mark of Bale’s place in Madrid’s first XI even before Mbappe became a possibility, as Isco assumed playmaking responsibilities in impressive style. Between that and Bale’s injury problems, he’s definitely the least crucial element of the BBC.

So here’s the question. If the dominoes do start to fall, should United make a move? He is an exceptional player, capable of destroying any defence in the world with pace, power, and wicked shots from distance. He can also cross, and takes an excellent free-kick. And he’s already proved himself in the Premier League, excelling in an otherwise weird Tottenham team.

But that would have to be weighed against two factors. The first is that he seems to be getting increasingly injury prone: he played 44 games for Real Madrid in his first season, 48 in his second, but just 31 in 2015-16 and 27 last season. Much of Bale’s on-pitch presence comes from his power and pace; if his body starts to go, his edge might diminish.

The second is that he does, per the report, want to play at least one more season in Madrid. And while there are some players that are perfectly capable of adjusting to the fact that they aren’t quite where they want to be, there are plenty others who let it get to them.

So, what do you think. It’s not worth getting your hopes up at this stage — not least because a City bid for Mbappe would completely ruin everything — but it’s an interesting hypothetical question. Is it worth picking up somebody that can do the things that Gareth Bale can do, if there’s a chance he might not be able to do them all the time, and that he might secretly want to be doing them elsewhere?