No longer a regular focal point of Real Madrid’s starting XI, the idea of Gareth Bale returning to the Premier League now seems more plausible ahead of the summer transfer window than ever before – and recent reports from Spain claim a move to Manchester United remains his priority.
But there are question marks over what exactly the Red Devils, or any summer suitor, would be getting compared to the flying forward that left Tottenham Hotspur for the Bernabeu in 2013 at world-record cost.
No doubt, Bale is still a fantastic talent – very few players, if any, regress as footballers because they’re playing alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos and Luca Modric. In fact, quite the opposite.
But the early portion of Bale’s Real Madrid career was defined by his ability to make the difference in big games – scoring goals in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals during his debut campaign.
Compare that to this season though; all but two of his eleven goals in La Liga have come against sides in the bottom half of the table, and his only goal in the Champions League was during a relatively routine 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Of course, there are caveats to consider here – it’s not easy for any player when they’re coming in and out of the team, and Zinedine Zidane has often shied away from starting the Welshman in Real Madrid’s biggest games.
But Real Madrid’s dramatic 3-1 defeat to Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday night provided an opportunity for Bale to truly make an impact on an important occasion for Los Blancos.
The 70-cap international failed to truly embrace it; in fact, barring one effort at goal and an attempt to convert the rebound with a backheel, his attacking contributions were limited to just one accurate cross and one chance created. Most worryingly for a player who made his name at top level by driving at teams on the counter-attack, he also didn’t register a single successful dribble.
The other big concern regarding Bale is inevitably his injury problems, but that’s interlinked with form too. And perhaps after so many bouts on the sidelines during his time in the Spanish capital, those injury issues are starting to catch up with him – especially in the big games against top-quality defences.
So, Manchester United fans, has Wednesday’s performance put you off the idea of signing Bale? Let us know by voting below….