Transfer Focus: Bale an exciting alternative to Griezmann, but injury record is concerning

According to reports from The Independent, Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is open to completing a transfer to Manchester United this summer.

What’s the word?

Seemingly no longer admired by all sections of the Bernabeu hierarchy, The Independent claim the Welsh wizard would be open to signing for Manchester United this summer if the Champions League finalists decide to sell. The idea of Bale returning to the Premier League has been discussed practically ever since he left Tottenham four years ago, but sources now describe it as ‘much likelier’ than at any other point throughout his Los Blancos career – with Zinedine Zidane’s side enjoying greater fluidity and balance since Bale was forced off through injury during the El Clasico.

Jose Mourinho, however, is still undecided on the potential deal, because his preferred target is Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann – the 25-goal Frenchman United have been linked with for much of the campaign and have been tipped to bid £85millon for this summer, activating his release clause. United probably won’t be able to sign both in the same transfer window, but Bale nonetheless represents an exciting alternative.

The hero United need?

With Pogba struggling to justify his world-record price-tag and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future uncertain, Manchester United need to sign a superstar this summer, an attack that has scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League’s top seven being the most obvious department to slot one in. Like Griezmann, Bale certainly falls into that category; he was the world-record signing before Pogba and although his Real Madrid tenure hasn’t been a resounding success from start to finish, he’s scored important goals in Copa del Rey and Champions League finals, whilst notching up 54 goals in 100 La Liga outings.

Furthermore, unlike Griezmann, Bale has already proved himself in the Premier League. He’s the perfect counter-attacking player through his power, speed and netting prowess and would certainly fit into the way Jose Mourinho wants his side to play.

What’s the catch?

First and foremost, we’re not talking about the same Gareth Bale who left White Hart Lane four years ago. The 66-cap international will turn 28 years of age this summer and that does raise questions over his longevity.

Tied in with that is Bale’s recent injury problems, which have seen him manage just 42 La Liga appearances since the start of last season, not all being starts. In that time, he’s been absent for 192 days according to Transfermarkt – nearly seven months.

In comparison, Griezmann is a year younger, has made 50 appearances or more in each of the last three seasons and doesn’t rely on athletic ability in the same way, which arguably makes him the safer long-term investment.

Snapping up Bale would still be a real statement on United’s part, however, so which superstar would you sign this summer?