Gareth Bale to Tottenham: Why didn't Manchester United try to sign Real Madrid forward?

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Gareth Bale is heading back to Tottenham but why didn't Manchester United make a move for the Real Madrid forward?

The Wales star has repeatedly been linked with a return to the Premier League during his seven-year stay in Spain, with United often reported as a likely destination.

However, with 31-year-old Bale set to complete a sensational loan move to his former club Spurs, United have remained out of the frame.

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Sky Sports News' North West reporter James Cooper believes while United would have been keen on Bale in the past, they now have players of the required standard in Bale's favoured positions, while Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho remains their number one transfer priority.

"I think in previous summers he is someone who would have fitted the pedigree of United," Cooper told the Pitch to Post podcast.

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during the UEFA Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Manchester United at the Philip II Arena on August 8, 2017 in Skopje, Macedonia.
Image: Gareth Bale had long been linked with a move to Manchester United

"When I talk about a Plan B scenario with Jadon Sancho, [Bale] was someone they looked at. A loan deal would be difficult and interesting but it's also where would he fit on the pitch?

"Ostensibly he's a left-sided player. There's not a problem there because Marcus Rashford is playing on the left. And, with the greatest respect to Gareth Bale and everything he's won, they're at different stages of their career. It would be a brave person that took Marcus Rashford out from the left spot and put Bale there.

"Equally Bale could play in the 10 but they don't need that, they have the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek, and even Paul Pogba.

"There is an argument he could play on the right, where they need him, but that isn't getting the best out of Bale."

Jadon Sancho during the pre-season friendly between Borussia Dortmund and FK Austria Wien 4:24
Sky Sports News' Dharmesh Sheth says Manchester United do not want to pay £108m outright for Jadon Sancho and have always had that view throughout the transfer window

Cooper also pointed out that United have only recently got the high wages of Alexis Sanchez off their books and suggested supporters may be loathe to see the club enter such an expensive deal again, especially with Bale into his 30s.

Instead, those finances could be spent on keeping hold of key current players.

"It would have been nice, in terms of the calibre of the player, but there would also be Manchester United fans thinking, we got rid of one problem player in Alexis Sanchez, got rid of that salary which allowed us to bump up the likes of Dean Henderson," said Cooper. "I think there will be a new contract in the pipeline for Paul Pogba because of that breathing space with Sanchez gone.

"And there will be some United fans thinking we don't need to do that again, we don't need to spend big on a player that perhaps isn't a number one player in terms of the Manchester United first team.

"It would have been interesting to see how it worked out but there is perhaps an argument to say Tottenham need Gareth Bale more than Manchester United do at the moment."

Live Premier League

Solskjaer eager for football after 'nightmare' summer

Manchester United return to Premier League action against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with the 5.30pm kick-off live on Sky Sports Premier League.

Cooper says boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased to get the new campaign underway after a difficult closed season, with off-field incidents involving Harry Maguire, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and the drawn-out pursuit of Jadon Sancho.

"Manchester United had a fantastic lockdown as a club," said Cooper. "We saw everything they did in terms of feeding NHS workers, in terms of food banks, and even just in terms of lighting up Manchester United in NHS colours. They had a lockdown to be proud of and they led the way.

"But it's been a summer to forget. It's been much of a nightmare for them to be honest.

It's been a summer to forget. It's been much of a nightmare for them to be honest.
Sky Sports News' James Cooper on Man Utd's off season

"If you think of some of the things that have happened: Paul Pogba testing positive for COVID. It's not an ideal situation and clearly not his fault, but it's almost like Mario Balotelli at Manchester City, 'why always me?' Why always Paul Pogba?

"And then you look at Mason Greenwood and all he did last season, equalling records of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Brian Kidd and George Best in scoring 17 goals and really putting himself in the Manchester United first-team picture. And for the England situation, it was a real blot on his copy book. After this stratospheric rise, it's put the brakes on a little bit.

"I think Manchester United have seen the benefits in Ole almost being a father figure, behind the scenes. He'll have needed to dig into that armoury again with Mason Greenwood, not only to have put an arm around him but to have said, 'look you have got a responsibility as a United player to behave in a certain way and all eyes are on you'.

"And then Harry Maguire in Mykonos. I don't begrudge anyone a holiday but he's captain of Manchester United, whether he should have been in Mykonos town centre or not those things do happen and he's been reminded that there are certain responsibilities about his behaviour and where he needs to be and where he doesn't need to be as Manchester United captain.

"All in all, Solskjaer would have gone into the month-long break thinking everything is fine, I've done really, really well here. But then in the last four weeks, a little bit of crumbling and that does raise question marks about whether United can bridge the gap."

Watch Manchester United v Crystal Palace live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm.

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