Gareth Bale is playing out his final days as a Real Madrid player and will leave the club in the summer.
The 29-year-old has been whistled in his last two matches at the Santiago Bernabeu as his failure to step into the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, coupled with Madrid‘s poor season, has led to Bale becoming a scapegoat for many supporters.
However, Bale‘s drop-off in terms of performances have made the Madrid leaders wonder if they will be able to sell the Welshman for a fee that they would be happy with, so allowing him to leave on loan with an option to buy could be a feasible possibility.
Ever since Zinedine Zidane‘s return as head coach on March 11, the departure of Bale has been seen as a formality. Madrid are planning to overhaul part of the squad this summer, which will see at least four places in the starting line-up come under threat, albeit Bale hasn’t been an out-and-out starter for the entire campaign since Carlo Ancelotti was in charge.
The Spanish press, and to a lesser extent the British media, have noted how Bale has underwhelmed for Los Blancos, yet he retains a strong reputation in the Premier League from his days at Tottenham Hotspur. The reality is different, however, as Madrid have not received a single offer for the No.11; that applies to the present, but also after Bale‘s Champions League-winning performance in Kiev last May.
Whilst Bale is remembered in England for his dominating displays with Spurs, clubs are also aware of his extensive injury history. In his six seasons at Madrid, he has suffered 29 injuries which have caused him to miss 86 games, and that, added to Zidane often preferring Isco during his first spell in charge, has meant hat he has only disputed 53.4 percent of his total possible minutes with Los Blancos.
In short, Bale misses one of every three games for his team – he has played 228 matches out of a possible 341 – but he has often stepped up when it is most needed, such as in last year’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, and scoring the opening goal in extra time as Madrid went on to beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the 2014 Champions League final. Throughout the season, however, he does have a habit of going missing when his team need him. Nevertheless, his numbers are impressive: 102 goals and 63 assists in 228 games.
His salary is a big obstacle
In addition to his delicate physique, another reason why it will be difficult for Madrid to recoup the 101 million euros they paid for him in 2013 – not to mention the 175m euros that Bale‘s agent, Jonathan Barnett, values him at, according to The Sun – is because of the Welshman’s salary.
He will earn 17m euros net per season over the next three years, with his contract set to run until June 2022, which makes him the best paid player in the Madrid squad, above captain Sergio Ramos who is second in the list. Not only will be clubs be hesitant to pay Bale a similar salary due to his injury history and underwhelming performances in recent years, but he will also be 30 in July.
On the respected website Transfermarkt, they view Bale as the 15th most valuable player in LaLiga Santander at 70m euros, although these prices are often lower than what clubs will pay in the transfer market. In any case, it is worth mentioning that Bale‘s 70m euros valuation is lower than his teammates Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and Raphael Varane, who are all rated at 80m euros, while Vinicius Junior and Casemiro are also valued at 70m euros. Elsewhere in LaLiga Santander, Lionel Messi is rated at 160m euros, Antoine Griezmann is 150m euros, and Ousmane Dembele is valued at 120m euros.
The Manchester United option
There was a meeting between the leaders of Madrid and Barnett, Bale‘s agent, on April 9 whereby the Englishman stated that “Bale is very happy here, he’s a Real Madrid player and he’s not thinking about returning to England right now,” although in that meeting the club intimated that he will not be in their plans for next season. As such, Josep Pedrerol reported last Thursday on the TV show Jugones that Barnett had told the club that Bale wants to remain at Madrid. Introverted and comfortable, Bale is at ease in Madrid, despite being a peripheral figure in the dressing room, and his wife is delighted with their life in Spain.
Meanwhile, those at Madrid are waiting for an English club to show interest in the former Premier League Player of the Season from 2012/13, and they are hoping that Manchester United will be the first to enquire, but so far there has been no movement.
Beyond the Red Devils and their economic might, Arsenal could not afford the move; Chelsea are battling FIFA to overturn their transfer embargo, for one window at least; Pep Guardiola has never shown an interest in bidding for Bale; and Spurs, the club he left in 2013, appear to now be on a different course with the likes of Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen all starring in the attacking midfield positions for Mauricio Pochettino‘s side.
Outside of the Premier League, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are two hypothetical candidates but it is difficult to imagine either side fighting to sign Bale. They would certainly not be willing to pay his salary of 17m euros net, in addition to his hefty transfer fee, too.
As such, Madrid have come to the realization that a loan may be the best option for them to get rid of Bale‘s salary, or at least a large chunk of it, by loaning him out with an option to buy. Something similar was done with James Rodriguez as he joined Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal, with the German side paying his 6.5m euros for each season of the loan, coupled with the Colombian’s 7m euro salary and the possibility of retaining James beyond June 30, 2019, for 42m euros.