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    What Next for Gareth Bale as Madrid Chapter Draws to a Close?

    Image source via https://twitter.com/Colemans_Dream

    In the 64th minute of the Champions League final against Liverpool on 26 May 2018, Gareth Bale stood with his back to goal as a cross from Marcelo was delivered from the left. Undeterred by his proximity to the target, the Welshman manoeuvred his body to meet the ball with his left foot, powering it over his head and beyond Loris Karius into the top corner of the Liverpool goal.

    Bale added a second as the team from Madrid lifted their 13th European Cup. It was a monumental night for the Cardiff-born player and one that many thought would propel him to new heights at the club. Especially with rumours circulating that Cristiano Ronaldo was set to leave Madrid in the summer.

    Bale was expected to become the club's main man, to step into Ronaldo's shoes and minimise the impact of the Portuguese star's departure. But, so far, it has not turned out that way.

    Not only did Ronaldo depart but coach Zinedine Zidane also quit, leaving the club in a state of shock. The Real Madrid hierarchy turned to Spanish national team coach Julen Lopetegui as Zidane's replacement but it proved to be a misguided move. The Basque technician was relieved from his duties following a 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in October.

    Bale has struggled for form since May and the club have looked a shadow of the side that frustrated Liverpool on that incredible night. With the January transfer window approaching, there have already been rumours that Bale could be on his way out of the club. Manchester United have long been admirers but would Bale be willing to join a club that are priced at 500/1 to win the league title?

    Last year, some experts suggested Bale might move to Chelsea or even make a surprise return to Tottenham Hotspur. In fact, the odds on a move to Spurs fell from 16/1 to 4/1 last December, although a transfer failed to materialise. Those looking for Premier League betting tips might want to keep an eye on those odds again as the January window approaches.

    Another option could be Juventus. After failing to fill Ronaldo's shoes, Bale might be tempted to rekindle their partnership in Italy. The player's agent refused to rule the option out when quizzed by the Italian press recently. The two enjoyed playing together and Ronaldo's move has made Serie A an attractive option for many top players.

    Image source via "Ronaldo" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Jan S0L0

    If he doesn't move in January, he is almost certain to leave Madrid in the summer and there should be no shortage of interested parties. Despite his dip in form, Bale remains one of the top players in the world and, aged just 29, he still has plenty to give. Whether he would prefer another new experience in a foreign country or a return to the United Kingdom remains to be seen. But it seems clear that Real Madrid are ready to cash in on one of their most prized assets.

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    Posted: Tuesday 4th December 2018
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