Real Madrid star Gareth Bale's love of golf is contributing to his persistent injury problems, according to a report in the Spanish press, and he is once again being linked with a return to the Premier League.
El Confidencial (h/t Football365) reported the Wales international is "obsessed" with golf, and the sport has contributed to his back injuries. The report also stated Los Blancos are ready to sell Bale for a fee "close to" £89 million, and Manchester United are interested.
Mundo Deportivo (via Manchester Evening News' Alex Porter) also launched a fresh round of speculation, as the 28-year-old could be "sacrificed" in order to bring in several big-name signings.
Transfer speculation is nothing new for Bale, who has been a frequent target of the Spanish press since his successful debut season in the capital. Inconsistency and persistent injury woes have held him back, while others such as Isco and Marco Asensio have stepped up.
He's sidelined once again, and the last few months haven't been kind to the Welshman, per Goal:
🏆 June 2017: Gareth Bale wins Champions League 😱 October 2017: Gareth Bale fails to reach World Cup https://t.co/yTQxYpg4Yk2017-10-10 06:32:36
Bale's love for golf is well documented, and the former Tottenham Hotspur star has a replica of a famous hole in his back garden, as shared by GOLFNEWS:
First look at Gareth Bale's replica of the signature par three, 17th at Sawgrass in his own back garden. https://t.co/acXm7YmEZJ2017-10-2 21:03:32
Blaming golf for his back troubles is a big step, however. Per Bleacher Report's Richard Fitzpatrick, back issues have been a regular thing for Bale since his teens, due to a growth spurt. According to Transfermarkt.co.uk, his recent setbacks have been to his calf and ankle.
Bale's future will remain a hotly contested point, especially with two of Real's loan players doing so well. Vinicius Jr. is the next great talent to emerge from Brazil, and Martin Odegaard is finally starting to live up to the hype in Heerenveen. The Norway international has mostly played as a right-winger in the Netherlands.
If Bale continues to miss large chunks of the season, Real could well decide to cash in. Clubs like United will maintain an interest, despite his injury issues, as they may believe he'll return to his best with a change of scenery.