Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Talks Summer Transfer Plans, Declines Gareth Bale Comment

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2019

Manchester United's  Norwegian head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 10, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken of the need for the club to recruit "quality players" in the summer but would not be drawn on the possibility of signing Real Madrid's Gareth Bale.

The Press Association's Simon Peach relayed the Norwegian's comments:

Simon Peach @SimonPeach

Solskjaer: “There’s so many factors you need to think about when you sign players. It’s easy - I don’t know if it’s easy - when you’re in the media or a supporter, you can think short-term. We’ve got to think about the longevity as well, who’s going to fit in personality-wise"

Solskjaer was brought in to replace Jose Mourinho in December until the end of the season, although he is widely expected to become their next permanent manager after winning 14 of his 18 matches in charge.

Bale, 29, still has three years left on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Zinedine Zidane's return to the club on Monday has led to speculation regarding the winger's future.

As the Spanish Football Podcast observed, the Welshman and the Frenchman did not have a positive relationship during the latter's previous spell in charge:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Zidane's return would surely mean (if this wasn't certain already) that Gareth Bale will leave Real Madrid this summer. By the end of last season their relationship was non-existent.

Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, told BBC 5 Live Sport the winger wants to finish his career in the Spanish capital but also criticised sections of Los Blancos support for the way they treat his client:

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

'The jeering not so much bothers him - he doesn't understand what he's got to do' 🤷‍♂️ @GarethBale11's agent Jonathan Barnett joins @GuillemBalague in a special Euro Leagues podcast👇 📲⚽ https://t.co/9DC0a18fAY https://t.co/SAfkDHJXpK

He has contributed 101 goals and 63 assists in 223 appearances for Real, including three UEFA Champions League final goals and another in a Copa del Rey final.

However, he has also had periods in which he has struggled for form and fitness, and the Santiago Bernabeu has been vocal in its criticism of him during such times, with jeers and whistles at Bale not uncommon.

This season, Bale has notched 13 goals and assisted five more, but many hoped he would kick on following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure last summer, which he has not managed.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News believes United would be better served not going for him:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Arguable Gareth Bale could still tear it up in England but advisable for #mufc to move on, despite how tempting it'd be to capitalise on Zidane's return. If they were to have another go six years on from being led down the garden path by Levy they won't have learnt their lesson.

Bale is a proven top-class talent, but because of his injury issues, he has not reached 40 appearances in all competitions across a single campaign.

After handing 30-year-old Alexis Sanchez a basic wage packet of £350,000 per week in January 2018 and seeing the Chilean score just five goals in his 41 subsequent appearances, United can ill afford to splash out on another high-profile player who's past his prime, especially when it's unclear what kind of return they will get on their investment.

United will need to strengthen this summer if they are to challenge for the Premier League title next season, but signing Bale could be an expensive gamble. It may be better for them to consider other targets.