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Gareth Bale signals intent to leave Real Madrid, putting Manchester United on alert

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The Welshman has given his strongest indication yet that he may leave the Spanish giants.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Barely half an hour after scoring one of the greatest cup final goals in Champions League history, Gareth Bale indicated that he may leave Real Madrid this summer in search of regular football. The bombshell announcement came after a match in which Bale again started among the substitutes, although he did come off the bench to score a double and clinch Madrid’s record third European title in a row.

“I need to be playing week-in, week-out and that hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another ... I have to sit down in the summer and discuss my future with my agent and take it from there.”

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was noncommittal when told of Bale’s comments, and Bale even admitted that the two men did not even speak for hours after the end of the match.

“As I said, at the end of the day, I will rest in the summer work out my next move and decide whether I stay or whether I go and see what’s what.”

It certainly seems like an expensive divorce is on the cards. There is no chance that Zidane will be ousted after winning his third Champions League final in as many years. The only factor that may keep Bale at the club is the fact that the man with whom he seems unable to coexist on the pitch also threw his own future into doubt.

“It was nice to be at Madrid. In a few days I will give a response to the fans, because they have always been at my side.”

Cristiano Ronaldo is feeling unloved again, and United fans will be familiar with the Portuguese hinting at an imminent departure immediately following a European triumph. At this point, though, we’re all past the point of exhaustion with any discussion of a potential return “home” for Ronaldo. Zidane was unequivocal when asked about the possibility of Ronaldo leaving - in stark contrast to his comments on Bale. Club president Florentino Perez was more passive-agressive than usual when asked about his unhappy superstar, but unless Ronaldo has really made his mind up this time, the overwhelming likelihood is that this current unhappiness ends in a plump new contract.

Bale remains the more likely of the two to depart, and Manchester United remain possibly the only club with the will and the resources to sign him. José Mourinho would love his end product and physicality, and the club’s commercial department would be positively moist with excitement at the prospect of another top Adidas-sponsored superstar joining the ranks.

On the pitch, Bale’s signing would only exacerbate the current problem of having too many attackers who either want to start from the left wing and cut inside or be played centrally behind a striker. Too much of United’s second half of the season was defined by all the better attackers trying to occupy the same space. On the other hand, truly elite players who have proven their quality both in the Premier League and in Europe don’t become available everyday. United have been chasing Bale since he was at Southampton, and this may be their best chance to finally sign him, even if there are other areas of the team that require more urgent attention.

What do you think? Should United go all out to secure Bale’s transfer? Still holding out hope for a Ronaldo reunion instead? Should we stay clear of both? Have your say in the comments.