Real Madrid star Gareth Bale reportedly turned down a £100 million move to Manchester United last summer because he was afraid of the “state of uncertainty” at Old Trafford―a situation that is anticipated to repeat itself at the end of this season.
According to the Independent's Ian Herbert and Mark Ogden, the Wales international seriously considered moving back to the Premier League last summer, but he was talked out of the move by former Blancos manager Rafael Benitez.
While Benitez convinced Bale he would be best served staying in Madrid, the ongoing turmoil at Old Trafford is also said to have played a role. As things haven't improved for the Red Devils, the same issues could hamper their chances of signing their longtime target next summer:
After United’s offer came in, Bale was persuaded by then manager Rafael Benitez, with whom he enjoyed a good relationship before the Spaniard was sacked by Real three weeks ago, that his future lay in Madrid. But the 26-year-old and his representatives will also need persuading that United – who have now twice offered world record sums for Bale – have a cogent strategy in place and can offer him success, if they are to make a successful third move for their prime target this summer.
The report stated United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward wants to keep current manager Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford until the end of the season to avoid any more midseason disruption. The new manager could then present his long-term vision for the club, which could aid in the hunt for Bale.
The 26-year-old seems to have rediscovered his best form in Madrid and has already scored 13 goals and added eight assists in 14 La Liga starts this season, per WhoScored.com.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star struggled in his second season in La Liga after a promising debut season, but he seems to have found his feet again at the Bernabeu.
But according to the Independent's Herbert, things aren't nearly as rosy off the pitch, as Bale hasn't managed to bond with the bulk of his team-mates and usually leaves the team's social gatherings early:
Bale hasn’t been at the hub of things off the field, either. Though not unhappy with his life in the Spanish capital, he is not engrossed in it. He has not mastered the Spanish language. He does show up at the dinner parties which are a part of the social circuit – but generally he leaves them early. The only one less inclined to join in than him is the German Toni Kroos, who doesn’t generally appear at all.
United have the cash to make a move for Bale, but a number of key obstacles would stand in the way of a summer transfer. For one, the Welshman is yet to give any indication he would be open to leaving the Bernabeu.
Manchester United are dropping out of the Premier League title race fast and will have their work cut out for them to secure Champions League football for next season.
Van Gaal has faced a lot of criticism in the past few weeks but changing the negativity surrounding the club won't be as simple as just hiring a new manager. Per ESPN FC's Alex Shaw, there are more people who share in the blame, including Woodward:
Woodward could sell ice to Eskimos but my God, he's proven to be a wretched presence on the football side. Making it up as he goes along.— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) January 26, 2016
United's recent history with big-money signings also works against the club, and Bale will remember what happened to Angel Di Maria, another Real Madrid star who moved to Old Trafford for a major fee. Combined with the fact United need to rebuild the squad in order to contend, and most top players would opt to stay in Madrid.
Finding the right man to replace Van Gaal and ending the turmoil at Old Trafford would be a great place to start for the Mancunians, who need to find some kind of long-term vision and drastically improve their standing among Europe's top clubs.
If they can do that, Bale could become the marquee signing for the Red Devils to build their next dynasty around, but until they do, convincing him to leave La Liga will be hard.