Time is now right for Bale to swap Madrid for Reds

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By JAMES ROB­SON

AT the age of 28, Gareth Bale needs to choose his next move wisely.

The Welsh­man turns 29 next sum­mer. By no means will he be ready for the scrap­head.

Just a look at his Real Madrid team-mate Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s en­dur­ing bril­liance aged 32 - should serve as in­spi­ra­tion.

But at this stage of his ca­reer, Bale may find his op­tions short­en­ing.

And amid the lat­est talk in Spain that Real are ready to cash-in on him, he needs to think care­fully.

This is not the first time such whispers have sur­faced.

In fact, Bale’s Bern­abeu fu­ture has been the source of spec­u­la­tion al­most from the mo­ment he headed to the Span­ish gi­ants in 2013.

His de­ter­mi­na­tion to forge a re­mark­able ca­reer at Real, in spite of that, is just part of what makes him one of the play­ers of his gen­er­a­tion - one of the great­est Bri­tish ex­ports of all time.

His at­ti­tude has long been ‘Why on earth would I leave?’

Even in the face of peren­nial in­ter­est from United, Bale’s de­vo­tion to tro­phy col­lect­ing in Spain has so far seen him brush off all at­tempts to lure him to Old Traf­ford.

Per­haps now is the time to re­con­sider.

It would be no sur­prise to see him hold aloft an­other Champions League tro­phy at the end of the sea­son.

That tends to be how the script goes with Bale - a year of spec­u­la­tion, an­other tro­phy.

But with the emer­gence of Isco and Marco Asen­sio, his po­si­tion has rarely looked so pre­car­i­ous.

And should the op­por­tu­nity to head to United present it­self next sum­mer, it may well be his last.

Should he stub­bornly stand firm again, he will en­ter the un­cer­tainty of his 30s.

In his 30s would a truly elite club like United be pre­pared to of­fer him a long-term con­tract?

Would they be pre­pared to meet a price tag of ‘close to £86m’ which is be­ing quoted in Spain?

Would an ex­tra year in Madrid be worth that? Maybe so. Bale has backed him­self so far and few could claim it hasn’t paid off.

His per­sonal haul of three Champions League ti­tles are as many as United have won in their en­tire his­tory.

And at this mo­ment in time, he looks a bet­ter bet to win a fourth be­fore United.

Al­ter­na­tively, he could be­come the fi­nal piece of a squad Jose Mour­inho is build­ing with the tar­get of con­quer­ing Europe once more.

By the end of the sea­son, the tim­ing could be per­fect for all par­ties.

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