After nine years at Real Madrid and fresh from helping Wales qualify for their first World Cup since 1958, Gareth Bale is available on a free transfer.
There were links to another Tottenham Hotspur return, MLS teams across the Atlantic and his hometown club Cardiff City of the Championship. Where will he land? Or should he retire from club football altogether?
the athlete Authors make the case for the various options open to Bale ahead of the World Cup in November and December.
Why not consider a second Tottenham return? Yes, Bale returned on loan for the 2020/21 season but it didn’t turn out the way many had hoped. It took him months to get the run on the team he needed to get fit. And by the time he set foot in the page, she was already caught in Jose Mourinho’s spiral of doom, so ultimately his contributions counted for little. And the worst: Almost everything took place in empty stadiums.
When Daniel signed Levy Bale to parade in front of a packed crowd almost twice the size of those who adored him before he joined Real Madrid, he never had that moment. So, as unlikely as it may seem, why not try again this year?
Those fans would love to see him in a Spurs shirt again and while he wouldn’t be a starter if he joined for a third stint, he could still be a high-end backup for Son Heung-min and only play if it is is necessary .
Who knows if Antonio Conte would want him or if the financial numbers would add up, but Conte has been vocal in favor of adding veteran winners to his squad.
The first time Bale came back never felt right.
Maybe a second return could be different?
Jack Pitt Brooke
Although Bale had his ups and downs as a Real Madrid player for nine years, the Welshman and his young family were very happy in the Spanish capital, enjoying the climate, lifestyle and privacy.
Returning to the UK would be difficult for many reasons, but Getafe’s Alfonso Perez Coliseum is just a 15-minute drive from Bale’s home in Madrid’s western suburbs.
Bale also has fond memories of playing at the Coliseum – there he notched a 3-0 win in 2014/15 and another 5-1 the following season. Getafe’s squad is also quite similar to Wales’s, with plenty of honest fighters that would give them the freedom and responsibility to make a difference up front.
Some financial sacrifices would be required as Bale’s salary (taxes included) accounted for more than half of Getafe’s total club budget of just over €60m last season.
Still, there would be a priceless opportunity next season to prove some points to Madrid fans and pundits – something that would help Bale stay focused as he awaits the start of the World Cup.
Bale has enjoyed a glittering football career. Five Champions League medals, three Spanish league titles and a Copa del Rey. He’s the most successful British player in European Cup/Champions League history – does he really need more titles?
Certainly the time has come for an emotional switch to his hometown club Cardiff, for whom his uncle Chris Pike played in the 1990s. OK, the league is a significant step backwards from Real Madrid, but he would be guaranteed playing time under former international team-mate Steve Morison and the Welsh capital club conveniently share a training ground with the national team.
It’s the only team he could sign for where fans wouldn’t even begrudge him taking it easy in the run-up to the tournament and maybe even giving him the luxury of a little break before kick-off. As Wales boss Robert Page said, it’s a move that “checks all the boxes”.
Bale would have to pocket the £600,000-a-week salary he was being paid at Madrid (more than the weekly paycheck of the entire Cardiff first-team squad) but his agent Jonathan Barnett has already said ‘money doesn’t matter’ too his customer.
“Finances will not play a role here,” he explained. “He’s already very rich. It will depend on where he wants to play, a personal choice.”
A move to Cardiff also offers easy access to the two bars he owns in the city center.
Golf? That covers the mini-course he built in the garden of his mansion a few miles west of town.
So come home, Gareth. It’s time now.
What else does Bale need to achieve in European football? He played a significant role in four of those five Champions League triumphs during his time at Madrid, guiding Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, the knockout stages of Euro 2020 and now helping to secure the 64- year-long wait to end his country’s World Cup.
If another player had achieved half of what he has, he would still have had a very successful career.
Despite his achievements, there is still a feeling that he is underestimated. A move to the US would offer him an opportunity to end his career revered by every MLS franchise presumably wanting to give him one last big payday.
And with more than 9,000 golf courses in America, he will have plenty of time to enjoy his favorite hobby.
On Sunday, Bale was part of a team wearing red and managed by a Welshman, with Brennan Johnson benefiting from a dubious referee to win a play-off game 1-0 thanks to an own goal.
If all of that wasn’t a sign that he should join the other team seven days early to achieve all that, then what would?
Nottingham Forest will be back in the Premier League next season for the first time in 23 years and while they have a promising team with great young players, they lack a star.
What they have is an owner, in Evangelos Marinakis, who has made it clear that he wants to make a splash. Enter Bale.
There will be little to no pressure on Bale in Forest, he can benefit from the heartfelt guidance of his compatriot Steve Cooper and build a better understanding with Johnson who, if he continues on his current developmental arc, should be a shoo-in for a Wales starts before the World Cup opener against the USA on November 21st.
Circumstances are different but Bale could be affected by how things have gone for Christian Eriksen after joining a newly promoted side last season. Eriksen has been both great and unconditionally popular at Brentford and while Bale has shown he’s not overly concerned with his fans’ adoration at club level, it could be nice to play in front of home fans who haven’t actively hated him for a few months.
retirement from club football
Bale is said to pack in club football.
There could be a few romantic options (hometown club Cardiff, youth club Southampton), some opportunists hoping to use its residual star value to propel themselves higher (West Ham, Newcastle, MLS), or some potentially disappointing, ill-advised final chapters ( Tottenham, Manchester United). tournament, as we have seen when played in its traditional summer slot) with no motivation to “put itself in the window”.
What domestic – or even European – event today could compare to leading Wales in their first World Cup since the founding of NASA, the commercial production of the hula hoop and the invention of instant noodles?
Rain, meet parade. The prosaic truth is Newcastle United shouldn’t and won’t sign Bale. An aging former Galactico with too much money is exactly the kind of message the club’s new owner wants to avoid. Their roster is already too old and in need of a refresher, and they want to maintain for as long as possible the wage-spirit balance that served Eddie Howe’s roster so well after January.
Unless, of course, Gareth is in the mood for a hefty pay cut and one last domestic challenge – bridging the ages at St James’ Park…
After all, Newcastle’s modern history is built on a similar type of transfer.
A former European champion and current international in his early 30s when Kevin Keegan stunned the game when he signed in 1982, he was delivering, leading the team to promotion and then retiring. But this end was also a beginning; Eight years later, after dedicating himself to Spanish golf courses, he returned to St James as manager, yet again out of the blue, and fairly soon Newcastle were challenging at the top of the table.
See where I’m going with this? Wales, Golf, Newcastle… in CHRONOLOGICAL order.
Bring the team to Europe, have fun, come back to the dugout later.
And this time, for goodness sake, win something.
(Top Photo: Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images)