At the end of a year in which he scored in the Champions League, Club World Cup and Copa del Rey finals, a majority of Real Madrid fans would sell Gareth Bale for more than 150 million euros ($183 million dollars; seriously, that much).
At least, that’s according to an AS online poll of more than 30,000 readers, which found that nearly 54 percent of Madrid supporters would let him leave if Manchester United offered the sum, as has been reported.
(Small print: It’s notable that some of the more reliable Manchester-based journalists haven’t gone all-in on the claim; and why would Bale want to leave Real for United, anyway? He wants to win trophies.)
Given Bale’s record of 33 goals and 24 assists in 66 games, where’s the gratitude from Madristas? Great as he has been at the Bernabéu, Bale’s unlikely ever to become an all-time fan favorite. He’s from overseas, doesn’t yet speak good Spanish and relies more on pace and directness than guile and technique. (Though that helps him stand out in La Liga.)
Also, thinking pragmatically, some may view him as expendable given he often keeps Spanish rising star Isco out of the lineup and has an injury history. It’s also rumored Real is about to sign Marco Reus from Borussia Dortmund. It’s only natural, imagining your club’s about to get a massive windfall, to fantasize about how the money might be spent.
Would United benefit from signing probably the best British player? Obviously. Do United need another forward/attacking midfielder? Probably not. It looks like it’ll return to the Champions League next season. But breaking the world transfer fee by 50 percent is a rumor that helps puff up its “big club” ego, even if the reality is Old Trafford is not as seductive an option as it once was.
It’s not very Glazers, though. It was remarkable enough when the famously parsimonious owners spent the best part of $100 million on Angel Di Maria. Now they’re going to spend almost double that next summer for another winger in his mid-20s, just after embarking on the second-biggest transfer splurge in history?
It doesn’t fully add up, but it’s a nice log to throw on to soccer’s equivalent of the hot stove as the January transfer window approaches.