No transfer window would be complete without rumours of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale joining Manchester United, but usually it turns out to be nothing more than media hype and ill-founded gossip.

In all likelihood, this time is probably no different, but some interesting details have emerged over the last couple of weeks that suggest for once, the smoke really could be coming from a genuine fire.

First, it seems clear that United expected to sign Jadon Sancho this summer but have failed and now need an alternative world-class right winger to fill that gap in the side. As United have wasted so much time putting the resuscitation paddles on a clearly dead Sancho deal, many of their original reported list of alternatives have been snapped up by other clubs or removed from the market. Ferran Torres has moved to City, for example, Milot Rashica looks poised to join Aston Villa, Willian has gone to Arsenal, Bayern Munich have decided to keep Kingsley Coman and David Brooks has been priced out of the market by Bournemouth.

This leaves the media suggesting that with United hoping to try again for Sancho in ten months’ time, they will move for a more ready-made quality short-term replacement in this window, with Ivan Perisic, Douglas Costa and Bale the names being bandied about in the press.

When compared with these other two, Bale could well be the best option; they are all within a year of each other in terms of age, Bale’s asking price would probably be the lowest of the three (it is reported that Real are looking for around £18 million for Bale, or would even allow him to leave on a free), and his recent injury record is actually better than the others (56 days out last season vs. 66 for Perisic and 82 for Costa).

Add this to former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon’ recent revelation that a Premier League side bid £89 million for Bale last summer. Given that Chelsea were under a transfer ban at that time, United seem the only really viable club to have made such a bid (City could also have done so, but it seems unlikely that they would target the player).

According to Talksport, the bid was ‘turned down by Real Madrid, as Bale was expected to be a key first-team figure in 2019/20 – something that could not have been further from what actually came to pass.’

If that bid really did come from United and Bale is now available for a fifth of that price or less, then the prospect of a fresh move now is not as unlikely as it seems.

A fourth piece of the jigsaw puzzle comes from Bale himself, as he has recently expressed a desire to return to the Premier League and acknowledged he came close to leaving last summer.

‘If those options arise [of a Premier League transfer] it is something I’d look at for sure,’ The Express reports he said recently.
‘We’ll see what happens, we have plenty of time in this transfer window and a couple of others as well. Time will tell … the decision is in Real Madrid’s hands.’
‘I tried to leave last year but they blocked everything at the last second. It was a project I was excited for, but it didn’t materialise.’
Under Glazer ownership, United have targeted big name signings that are good commercial investments (Di Maria, Falcao, Ibrahimovic, Sanchez and Pogba for example, along with a failed attempt for Neymar). The family recently even brought legendary quarterback, 43-year-old Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their American Football franchise. The Glazers would undoubtedly sanction a Bale transfer.
This gives us five good reasons why Bale to Manchester United really should be taken seriously as a transfer rumour this year, if the issue of his £600,000 per week wages can be resolved.

United fans are likely to be lukewarm about the idea, having been let down by some of those big name signings in the past and being suspicious of Bale’s injury history. However, if a fully fit Gareth Bale were to find form and a new lease of life down United’s right flank, it could turn out to be a spectacular piece of business for the club and could even transform Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side into genuine title contenders.

Manchester United’s new star Donny van de Beek will be the 13th Dutch national to play for the senior side. But how much do you know about the other 12? Take our quiz below to find out.

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