Gareth Bale’s new club criteria as Cardiff transfer emerges after Wales reach World Cup

Gareth Bale does not need one last big payday before hanging up his boots – nine years at Real Madrid, latterly on over £550,000 a week has almost certainly ensured that his bank balance looks pretty healthy.

He does not need the extra adulation from a new set of fans with the love he receives while playing in a Wales shirt seemingly quite enough.

And he would appear to need no personal vindication or for that matter have points to prove towards the end of a career in which he has pretty much won the lot including five Champions League trophies.

What he does need is to stay sharp for another six months until the end of Wales’s World Cup adventure. And with three months of football between now and their opening game on November 22 speculation as to where he might do that has gone into overdrive. His smiling acknowledgement he was ready to postpone his playing retirement “for a little bit” has created a frenzy about where he might rock up next with Cardiff City favourite.

Bluebirds chairman Mehmet Dalman has reportedly flown in to the United Kingdom to lead negotiations with Cardiff hoping the chance to lead a challenge to lift them into the top flight would appeal beyond the end of the World Cup, too. It would mean a big drop in wages. But after the vitriol that came his way during his final years in Madrid there would be release in a return to fans that would forgive him anything, where his family are from and where he has built up significant business investments.

Spurs and Southampton are other club’s mentioned as possible destinations but that seems largely because of his previous connection rather than any logic. Bale created the platform for his then record £85m move to Real Madrid at Spurs and came back on loan between September 2020 and June 2021 making 24 appearances.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Where will Bale go next? Let us know in the comments section

Gareth Bale celebrates Wales' winning goal in their World Cup play-off victory over Ukraine on Sunday

Gareth Bale celebrates Wales’ goal from his free-kick in their World Cup play-off victory over Ukraine on Sunday

Yet it is hard to see what sort of a contract Bale might strike and how he might fit in to Antonio Conte’s rebuild given he is not renowned for his high pressing. Some Spurs fans were also slightly piqued by Bale’s departure comments about how he had used the club to get fit for the Euros so a return there seems unlikely. Newcastle are another side mentioned and certainly have the deepest pockets although Bale’s agent has insisted money will not be the deciding factor.

Another possibility is Major League Soccer in the United States. Given the MLS season runs from late February to October, the timing could be good. But he would be the first major European star to sharpen their act in an environment that makes fatter and richer rather than fitter and faster and temptation of sunshine and golf in Florida could be counter productive. No, Cardiff in many ways seems the best fit yet Bale has rarely gone down the most likely route and while there will be many in the Welsh capital keeping fingers crossed they may not be holding their breath just yet.

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