Young Welshman Gareth Bale caught the attention of the football world in the 2010-11 season.
His pacey, powerful play on the left wing at Tottenham Hotspur inspired the imaginations of football fans throughout the world, while invoking the ire of countless others who felt him unworthy of all the praise and attention.
Bale is the center of much transfer speculation in the summer 2011 window, particularly with Tottenham’s purported financial troubles and Harry Redknapp’s insatiable desire to sign a world-class striker.
Many sources, including former Spurs gaffer Chris Hughton, expect Bale to stay with Spurs. Amidst speculation that Harry might leave to take over at Chelsea, Bale reportedly pleaded with the gaffer to stay put—not the behavior of man on his way out of the club.
But still, the rumor mill works overtime on this one.
Here are 10 clubs in the running to nab the Welsh sensation.
The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning reports rumors of Bale transferring to Serie A titans Juventus.
Though Juve finished in seventh place last season, the team looks to be in the process of a serious rebuilding effort that could make them one of the top sides in Europe if all goes according to plan.
ESPN reports that Juventus is aggressively pursuing Atletico Madrid striking wunderkind Sergio Aguero.
It’s hard to see Bale wanting to go to a team that finished seventh in Serie A when he plays for a team that finished fifth in the EPL, but only time will tell.
A few weeks ago, Goal.com reported Manchester City’s intentions to woo Bale away from White Hart Lane.
This isn’t the first time Bale has been linked with a potential move to City. Goal.com—among others—reported a similar such move for the January 2011 transfer window.
With players like Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Joe Heart, and a season of Champions League football to look forward to, Manchester City looks like an EPL team of the future.
Bale would make a great addition to such a lineup, but only if City learns to play like a team, which it struggled with intermittently during the 2010-11 season.
Gareth Bale’s reputation during the 2010-11 season was built in large part upon his phenomenal performance against AC Milan’s across town rival, Inter Milan, in the Champions League.
The performance apparently made an indelible impression upon Milan. According to Mirror Football, Italian prime minister and Roosoneri owner (no conflict of interest there) Silvio Berlusconi is interested in bringing Bale to Milan.
If the current Serie A title holders manage to nab Bale, they’ll have his well-placed crosses flying into mighty firepower, contributed to by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alexandre Pato and Robinho, which would make next year’s Champions League a very interesting competition indeed.
Metro.co.uk reports that Jose Mourinho has no interest in pursuing Gareth Bale during summer 2011.
So then why is Real on here? Because Jedi mind trick master Mourinho is always playing games with people’s heads, and this might just be his latest ploy.
Rumors from last September heavily linked Bale with a potential move to the Bernabeu. Certainly he would be a strong link between the back line and the likes of Ronaldo.
NESN, a Boston-based sports network, reported in April of 2011 that Liverpool has an eye for Welsh winger Bale.
Liverpool made two fantastic January transfer signings in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, though they will surely want to bolster their lineup further over the summer window by adding midfield depth and breadth.
Enter Gareth Bale, whose play up and down the wings creates maximum space on the pitch for the midfield and strikers to work with. Liverpool is also keen to add Blackpool’s Charlie Adam to its roster, though they face competition from Villa.
While Bale and Tottenham rejected the notion of a transfer to Inter Milan in January of 2011, Mirror Football reported in March of 2011 that Tottenham was searching to replace Bale and offered the young winger to a number of clubs, including Inter.
While March was a long time ago and Harry and Bale insist that the winger isn’t going anywhere, Inter is a club that comes up time and again in the Bale transfer-rumor mill.
Bale would certainly make a fine addition to the squad. Furthermore, playing on the second-best side in Italy with the likes of Samuel Eto’o might improve Bale’s skills and provide him with the experience he needs to mature as a player.
According to Caught Offside, Manchester United is set to make a £25m offer for Tottenham’s star winger.
United is currently in the midst of a rebuilding process that looks to see many new faces wearing the team’s iconic jersey come August.
These rebuilding efforts apparently include plans to nab Bale—and potentially Luka Modric as well. If United can manage to keep Nani on the right, have Bale on the left and put Chicharito and Wayne Rooney in the middle…well, that doesn’t bear thinking about for the rest of the teams in the EPL.
But there’s always Barca to worry about…
Speaking of which…
Not that Barcelona needs more firepower. As a matter of fact, with David Villa, that guy Messi and the very nearly signed Alexis Sanchez, Bale would be a step down for Barcelona.
However, at the tail end of the January transfer window, the Daily Mail quoted Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta as saying, “Gareth is certainly an interesting a player—he has typical features that make him set for a league like La Liga.”
Of course, there’s a world of difference between admiring a man’s athletic ability and making a bid for him, but a player with the talent and reputation of Bale is always on the radar of a side like Barcelona.
In April of 2011, Goal.com reported Chelsea’s intention to put in a £40m bid for Bale.
While further news of this bid has yet to come to light, Chelsea seems to be undertaking a massive rejuvenation campaign with rumored interest in the likes of Luka Modric, Brazilian striking sensation Neymar and Man City dynamo Carlos Tevez.
Bale actually fits pretty well into all of this, if we assume that he would serve as the link between Ashley Cole and the attacking players.
Harry says, "No way, Jose!" when it comes to selling top Spurs players to the Blues, but you never know.
French amateur squad FC Borne launched a bold bid for Lionel Messi in March that got the president of the organization suspended.
Yet if there’s anything the French are known for, it’s gall.
While the likes of United and Inter can offer up tens of millions of pounds for Bale, Borne offers artisanal cheeses, freshly baked bread and the promise of rare, exquisite wine vintages with each meal.