The rumours about Gareth Bale’s potential retirement did make sense as he had clearly fallen out of love with the game at Real Madrid, but his performances for Wales have shown that he’s still outstanding when motivated, but it may be a situation where he needs to feel respected and loved to get the best out of him.
After securing qualification for his country for the upcoming World Cup, he now needs to find a club for the new season to ensure he’s in peak condition going into the tournament, and it’s an interesting situation.
If finance is his prime motivator then a return to the Premier League would be the most obvious outcome, but he’s earned a lot of money over his career and it may not be his biggest need this time.
Picking a “smaller” club may also give him the freedom to have more control over his position and playing time as he focuses on the World Cup, so here’s a look at two interesting options for him.
His compatriot Aaron Ramsey didn’t have the greatest spell at Ibrox as he spent a lot of time injured and then went on to miss the decisive spot-kick in the Europa League final, but they have a widely respected manager in Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and there’s no doubt that he would be the biggest star in Scotland by a mile.
The Gers struggled towards the end of the season after the injury to Alfredo Morelos left them with little to no focal point in the attack, while it’s also possible that the Colombian star will move on this summer.
What that means is it then becomes easy to build the entire operation around him, while the fans will love him, he’ll tear up the league and they’ve demonstrated just how far they can go in Europe, while it would also give him the chance to win trophies and take momentum into the World Cup.
A lot may depend on a positive word from Ramsey to sell the club to him but there have been some murmurings that it could happen, but it would be quite different to what he’s used to. Lunchtime kick-offs in the highlands against Ross County are a far cry from some of the stadiums he’s used to, but it would be a fascinating move.
There’s a very loose precedent with this one with Craig Bellamy choosing to end his career with his hometown club despite having the ability to play at a higher level, while there are also suggestions from Wales that both Ramsey and Bale are being targeted by The Bluebirds.
The prospect of both playing in the Championship next season does seem slightly absurd, but again it comes back to their motivations as they’re coming off massive contracts with Real Madrid and Juventus. Qualifying for the World Cup is a huge deal for Wales and their success is built on a team spirit and having a couple of star players, so playing together every week does have the potential to forge an even stronger understanding going into the tournament.
Bale is also from Cardiff so he would get a chance to live somewhere familiar and the press attention would be favourable after years of Marca trying to bring him down for his golfing habits, and it might be the move that makes the most sense if he’s looking for something more comfortable rather than trying to test himself at the highest level with this move.