Jose Mourinho has revealed that Manchester United will attempt to sign Gareth Bale from Real Madrid if he is no longer in Zinedine Zidane’s plans for next season.
The 54-year-old, speaking ahead of United’s pre-season win over the La Liga champions last month, noted that he would not attempt to sign Bale – who suffered an injury impeded campaign at the Bernabeu last season – this summer, claiming that doing so would be a waste of time and energy as Ed Woodward and Co continue to pursue another wide player before the transfer window shuts.
However, the complexion of the entire saga has radically changed ever since Spanish outlet Marca confirmed that Madrid would need to jettison one of Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to sign AS Monaco wonder-kid Kylian Mbappe, seemingly opening the door for a move back to the Premier League for the 28-year-old.
And Mourinho, speaking at a press conference in Skopje ahead of United’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Madrid, told Bale in no uncertain terms that the door was open for him at Old Trafford if he ends up being surplus to requirements in Spain.
“Well if he’s playing tomorrow, no I wouldn’t think of that, it would be because he’s in the coach’s plans and the club’s plans, because he also has that motivation to continue at Real Madrid,” he said.
“So I haven’t even thought about the possibility. If he is not in the club’s plans, that with the arrival of another player would mean he was on his way out, I will try to be waiting for him on the other side and fight with other coaches that would want him on their team.
“But if he plays tomorrow, that is the best confirmation that he is still wanted by the team.”
We are witnessing some fantastic mind games from Mourinho here. The Portuguese is not just rattling Madrid’s cage over their stance on Mbappe and subsequently Bale; he is actively ensuring that, whether Bale starts or is left out tomorrow, either development will lead to certain conclusions being made over the Welshman’s future – something Florentino Perez will hardly appreciate. In the searing Macedonian heat, Mourinho has thrown a grenade into the mix in a way that only he, the master of getting under another club’s skin, can do.
But perhaps there is more to the story than that. Perhaps this isn’t just mind games. Mourinho may have heard something from the Bale camp to suggest that a move could indeed be possible before the window shuts.
This will be a saga worth keeping a close eye on over the next few weeks – that’s for sure.