José Mourinho has ruled out a move for Gareth Bale, calling it “impossible.” Mourinho did a bit of flirting with the Welshman in the tunnel before Manchester United clashed with Real Madrid over the weekend, but he appears to believe that an actual move for Bale - like a move for Cristiano Ronaldo - would be futile.
“The same [as Ronaldo]. You have contacts and feelings, you understand things, and it was clear that Bale likes Madrid, the challenge and situation.
“They are in a very good situation now and I never felt a desire for him to leave, so why waste time on it? No.”
New reports today claim that Madrid are actually encouraging bids for Bale in order to make room for the acquisition of Kylian Mbappé. According to that same story, Mourinho is understandably hesitant over spending time and energy on another wild superstar goose chase, and has not made a pursuit of Bale a priority.
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti has said that the club intends to keep United target Ivan Perišić, but there was a notable softening in his public stance. Spalletti stopped short of ruling out a move, noting that “a lot of considerations have to be made. I can't say for sure if he is going to stay or not.” With the clubs only a few million pounds apart in their respective valuations, one can only speculate why United are yet to pull the trigger. Kicking the can while keeping the door open for a bigger move, perhaps?
Mourinho has dropped his strongest hint yet that Zlatan Ibrahimović will play for United again this coming season. The Swedish striker is continuing his rehabilitation at United while technically out of contract, but it seems increasingly likely that he will sign a short term deal with the club once he recovers from injury around the turn of the year. Both Paul Pogba and Mourinho have now referenced Ibrahimović in the present tense, as if they expect him to be involved again with the team this season.
Ross Barkley is leaving Everton this summer, and is reported to be “open” to a move to Old Trafford. Well, of course he is. Most of us would be happy to be paid millions to play football for the biggest club in the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Any interest that United hold in such a deal appears to be tepid, particularly at the quoted asking price of £50m.
United are sending scouts to take a look at Anderlecht midfielder Leander Dendocker, apparently not having gotten a close enough look when he scored against them in the Europa League. We have no idea as to the veracity of this report, but if United signed every player they sent scouts to see, they’d have hundreds of players on the books - almost as many as Chelsea, even.
And finally, José Mourinho has been refreshingly forthright and admitted that United are not at the level of Real Madrid and Barcelona. With the exception of Paul Pogba (and obviously, David de Gea, who is the only undisputed world class player in the squad), United lack the top drawer talent available at those clubs. This is plainly obvious, as are the causes. United are richer and more profitable than both, but are also the only ones being run primarily to enrich their capitalist owners. Knowing Mourinho, these comments may also be a nudge in the back of Ed Woodward, but a potential ulterior motive doesn’t make them any less true.