Welsh star maneuvering for January switch after fresh tribulations at Madrid
Gareth Bale could be bound for the Chinese Super League after all, with Shanghai Shenhua reportedly reigniting their interest in the Welsh superstar following his latest falling-out with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.
Shenhua and Jiangsu Suning both failed in attempts to sign Bale last summer after Madrid slapped a hefty price tag, thought to be in the region of 40 million euros ($44 million), on the forward that would have been subject to a 100 percent CSL transfer tax.
However, Spanish daily Marca reported on Tuesday that Madrid’s hierarchy is now willing to let Bale leave for free after the 30-year-old was angered at being left out of Zidane’s squad for the 2-2 Champions League draw at home to Club Brugge on Oct 1.
Bale is reported to have instructed his agent, Jonathan Barnett, to sound out suitors with a view to a move in the January transfer window.
Marca claims Shenhua is among a number of clubs in talks with Barnett. Just like Suning, the Shanghai club baulked at Bale’s price tag in the summer, but now Madrid is willing to waive a fee in a bid to shave the player’s 34 million euro salary off its wage bill.
Bale feels undervalued and underappreciated at Madrid and looked all but certain to depart the 13-time European champion in the offseason when Zidane remarked that it “would be best for everyone” if the former Tottenham Hotspur attacker left the club.
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When the Suning deal collapsed, at the behest of Madrid president Florentino Perez, Barnett lashed out at Zidane, calling the French World Cup winner “a disgrace” and claiming there “was no relationship” between his client and the coach.
Since then, Bale appeared to have accepted his lot at Madrid, producing some impressive displays despite the Spanish giant’s shaky start to the season.
Zidane claimed to have left Bale and James Rodriguez off the squad for the Brugge clash because of fitness concerns over the pair.
“Yes, they were injured,” Zidane said. “Everyone here is indispensable, all 25 players, but they were the two injured ones and we didn’t want to risk them.”
However, Bale interpreted the omission as another vindictive slight from Zidane and decided he had enough of his perceived shoddy treatment to again send the rumor mill into overdrive.
Since signing for Madrid from Spurs for a then world-record fee of around $105 million in 2013, Bale has won four Champions League titles, scoring in two finals－most memorably when his spectacular overhead kick floored Liverpool in the 2018 decider.
Still, Bale has found it difficult to win over Madrid’s fans and Zidane, as Shenhua again looks to capitalize on the discord and acquire a player who would become the highest-profile signing in CSL history.