After nine years at Real Madrid and after helping Wales qualify for their first World Cup since 1958, Gareth Bale is available on a free transfer.
There have been links with another return from Tottenham Hotspur, MLS teams across the Atlantic and his local club, Cardiff City of the Championship. Where will it end? Or should he just retire from club football altogether?
Athleticism The writers made the case for the various options open to Bale ahead of the World Cup in November and December.
Why not consider a second return to Tottenham? Yes, Bale returned for the 2020-21 season on loan but it didn’t turn out the way many would have hoped. It took him months to get the run on the team he needed to get in shape. And when he got a foothold in the side, he was already locked into Jose Mourinho’s catastrophic spiral, so his contributions ultimately counted for little. And worst of all, almost everything took place in empty stadiums.
If Daniel Levy signed Bale to parade him in front of a full crowd approaching double the number who adored him before his move to Real Madrid, then he never got that moment. So, as unlikely as it may seem, why not try again this year?
These fans would love to see him back in a Spurs shirt, and while he wouldn’t be a starter if he joined for a third spell, he could still be a top-notch replacement for Son Heung-min, only playing in the event. of need. .
Who knows if Antonio Conte would want him, or if the financial numbers would line up, but Conte has said nothing, if not expressed, about wanting to add experienced winners to his squad.
The first time Bale came back, I never felt quite right.
Maybe a second comeback could be different?
Jack Pitt Brooke
Although Bale has had nine years of ups and downs as a Real Madrid player, the Welshman and his young family have been very happy in the Spanish capital, enjoying the climate, lifestyle and privacy.
Returning to the UK would be complicated, for many reasons, but Getafe’s Alfonso Perez Coliseum is just a 15-minute drive from Bale’s home in the western suburbs of Madrid.
Bale also has fond memories of playing at the Coliseum – scoring there in a 3-0 win in 2014-15, and picking up another in a 5-1 victory the following season. Getafe’s side are also quite similar to Wales, with plenty of honest fighters who would give them the freedom and responsibility to make a difference up front.
Some financial sacrifices would be necessary as Bale’s salary (including taxes) last season accounted for more than half of the Getafe club’s total budget of just over €60m.
Still, there would be an invaluable opportunity to prove some points to Madrid fans and pundits next season – something to help Bale stay focused as they wait for the World Cup to start.
Bale enjoyed a brilliant football career. Five Champions League winner’s medals, three Spanish league titles and a Copa del Rey. He is the most successful British player in European Cup/Champions League history. Does he really need more silverware?
Now is surely the time to take an emotional step to his hometown club, Cardiff, for whom his uncle Chris Pike played in the 1990s. OK, the Championship is a big step up from Real Madrid, but he would have guaranteed playing time under former international team-mate Steve Morison and the Welsh capital club easily share a training ground with the national side.
It’s the one team he could sign for that fans wouldn’t even blame him for taking it easy before the tournament, perhaps even giving him the luxury of a mini-break before kick-off. . As Wales boss Robert Page said, it’s a decision that “ticks all the boxes”.
Bale would need to take a big hit on the £600,000 weekly salary he was making at Madrid (more than the weekly wage bill of the entire Cardiff first team), but his agent Jonathan Barnett has already said that “the ‘money is not important’ to his client.
“Finance will not intervene in this,” he explained. “He is already extremely rich. It will depend on where he wants to play, a personal choice.
A move to Cardiff also provides easy access to the two bars he has in the city centre.
Golf? It’s covered by the mini-course he built in the garden of his mansion a few miles west of town.
So go home, Gareth. The time has come.
What’s left for Bale to do in European football? He was instrumental in four of those five Champions League triumphs during his time in Madrid, led Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, the knockout stage of Euro 2020, and has now helped end his country’s 64-year wait for a World Cup.
If another player had achieved half of what he has, he would still have had a very successful career.
Yet despite his accomplishments, there’s still a sense that he’s underappreciated. A move to the United States would present him with an opportunity to end his career adored by the MLS franchise who want to give him what would presumably be one last big salary.
And with over 9,000 golf courses in America, he’ll have plenty of time to indulge in his favorite pastime.
On Sunday, Bale was part of a team that wore red, led by a Welshman, with Brennan Johnson, who benefited from questionable refereeing to win a play-off 1-0 with an own goal.
If all of this wasn’t a sign that he should join the other team to achieve all of this, seven days early, then what is?
Nottingham Forest will be in the Premier League next season for the first time in 23 years, and while they have a promising squad full of great young players, they lack a star.
What they have is one owner, in Evangelos Marinakis, who has made it clear he wants to make a splash. Enter Bale.
There will be little to no pressure on Bale at Forest, he can benefit from the warm management of compatriot Steve Cooper and develop a better understanding with Johnson, who if he continues his current development arc should be a shoo-in for a Wales starting spot in their World Cup opener against the United States on November 21.
Circumstances are different but Bale could be swayed by how things went for Christian Eriksen after joining a newly promoted side last season. Eriksen was both superb and unconditionally loved at Brentford, and although Bale has shown he doesn’t care too much about his fans’ adoration at club level, it could be nice to play in front of home fans who don’t. not actively dislike him for a few months.
Retirement from club football
Bale should pack in club football.
There could be some romantic options (hometown club Cardiff, boyhood club Southampton), some opportunists hoping to use his residual star value to propel himself to the top (West Ham, Newcastle, MLS) or some potentially disappointing and ill-advised final chapters (Tottenham, Manchester United), but the really coolest thing for him to do would be to implicitly declare himself a full-time international footballer and go to the World Cup as a truly independent player (and not just someone whose contract expired during the tournament, as seen when he plays in his traditional summer slot), with no motivation to “show off”.
What domestic – or even European – game could compare now to Wales winning their first World Cup since the creation of NASA, the commercial production of the hoop and the invention of instant noodles?
Rain, go parade. The prosaic truth is that Newcastle United should not and will not sign Bale. An aging former Galactico with too much money is precisely the kind of message the club’s new owner is looking to avoid. Their team is already too old and in need of a refresh and, for as long as possible, they want to maintain the salary/spirit balance that served Eddie Howe’s side so well after January.
Unless, of course, Gareth fancy a hefty pay cut and one last national challenge – a bridge between eras at St James’ Park…
After all, Newcastle’s modern history is built on a similar kind of transfer.
When Kevin Keegan stunned the game by signing in 1982, he was a former European Cup winner and current international in his early 30s. He delivered, leading the team to promotion and then retirement. But this end was also a beginning; eight years later, having devoted himself to the Spanish golf courses, he returned to St James as manager, again unannounced, and very soon Newcastle challenged to the top of the table.
You see what I mean ? Wales, Golf, Newcastle… in CHRONOLOGICAL order.
Take the team to Europe, have fun, come back to the dugout later.
And this time, for God’s sake, win something.
(Top photo: Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images)