United missed out on Bale way back when he was a teenager at Southampton and chose to join Tottenham, but they reignited their interest in the attacker in 2013 and have hardly stopped being linked with him since.
We’ve rounded up all the speculation from 2018 about a potential move to Old Trafford. And just about managed to stop banging our heads against a table.
January 7: Bale started 2018 with a first start since September and a goal against Numancia in the Copa Del Rey, following that up three days later with a brace against Celta Viga.
That same day saw the Sunday Express report: ‘Man Utd transfer stunner: ‘Mourinho aims to land Gareth Bale from Real Madrid THIS MONTH’
January 8: The following day, The Daily Star quote a story from Emanuele Giulianelli on Tribal Football which suggests United want Bale in the summer, but Jose Mourinho is trying to convince all parties into agree to an earlier transfer. ‘The deal is on’, apparently.
Not wanting to disappoint their readership, the Manchester Evening News describe Bale’s brace as his way of sending a ‘Manchester United transfer message’.
January 10: Sticking with the Manchester Evening News, they now suggest Mourinho will not sign a big name in the January transfer window in order to use a summer budget of £150million to entice either Antoine Griezmann or Bale.
Malcolm and Mesut Ozil are the players who will no longer be making the move to Old Trafford in January, although the Arsenal man will instead join on a free transfer in the summer.
January 24: There is still time left for one important update from the Daily Express, who quote a story from Diario Gol using the tagline: ‘REAL MADRID star Gareth Bale wants to join Manchester United because of the Red Devils’ will to win, according to reports.’
Nobody could really be arsed in February. United had signed Alexis Sanchez by this point, the transfer window was shut and we all had to go back to watching the actual football. This was a happy time.
March 23: It was all so quiet until the final week of the month, but then Bale was back on the agenda, featuring two updates on the same day.
The Mirror kick us off with news that ‘Gareth Bale will quit Real Madrid and join Manchester United this summer if Zinedine Zidane remains in charge at the Bernabeu’, citing reports from Spain which suggest the player has ‘thrown in the towel’ at Los Blancos. Chelsea are also mentioned as a potential destination.
Later it’s the Daily Mail’s turn, who have the inside knowledge that Mourinho’s ‘bullying’ of Luke Shaw could scupper a deal for Bale. The two players share the same agency – who are not happy with the Portuguese.
March 24: Ryan Giggs must have got the memo, as the Wales manager urges the attacker to stay in the Spanish capital: “Of course you would want to stay there. What’s Gareth won, three Champions League titles? The proof is in that.”
March 28: A twist in the tale, you say? Now to Spain, where Marca report Mourinho has ‘convinced’ Bale to join Manchester United in the summer.
April 4: An exciting start to the month for United, according to the Manchester Evening News. The Red Devils have been given first refusal on Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos by Real Madrid, who are in turn interested in David De Gea, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba.
There could be a ‘de facto swap deal’ on the cards. Ooooh.
April 10: Ah, wait a second. Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has been speaking to ESPN: “Gareth is a Real Madrid player and loves Real Madrid, and Real Madrid love Gareth.
“All this talk about leaving is written by reporters who have no idea what is going on and who need to write something and don’t care if it is true or not.”
April 12: An interesting line from The Independent: ‘The Old Trafford hierarchy now have “close to zero interest in Bale”.’ Inter Milan are now leading the chase.
April 23: Don Balon have a nice piece of tittle tattle: Cristiano Ronaldo apparently thinks that Bale will wear the No.10 shirt vacated by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at United when he moves to Old Trafford in the summer.
April 25: The man himself has spoken, telling Bild: “Bayern have a fantastic squad and already in the past they have always been one of the most successful clubs in Europe.
“It’s an honour for everyone to be linked with this club. But as of now I am a Real Madrid player.”
Cue a mass of ‘Bale refuses to rule out summer move to Bayern Munich’ headlines.
May 26: FFS Gareth, why did you have to do this to us?
Speaking immediately after scoring twice to help Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League final, Bale tells BT Sport: “I need to be playing week in, week out, and that’s not happened this season. I had an injury five, six weeks in but fit ever since. I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it.”
May 29: Bale’s comments obviously lead to a tornado of speculation that he’s be on his way to Old Trafford, but The Independent has a different take: the player wants the move, but ‘there is now much more doubt over whether the Premier League side would do a deal’.
The Sun see it differently: United are willing to offer upwards of £200million and meet his £600,000-a-week wages, but Bale has ‘concerns over Old Trafford boss Jose Mourinho and his style of play’.
The Guardian kindly rule out Manchester City as a possible destination.
May 31: Some more big squad number chat in the Manchester Evening News. United will offer him the No.10, ‘but the Welshman may well want to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Ryan Giggs’ by taking the No.11, which may upset Anthony Martial.
June 1: Sources have told ESPN that United do want Bale but the player would rather stay in Madrid, as long as he is given assurances about his playing time.
The Express have reports of a different disagreement. They understand Ed Woodward is desperate to sign Bale, not Cristiano Ronaldo, but cite claims from Spanish outlet Univision (who we have literally never heard of) that Mourinho does not want the Wales international and is happy with his attacking options.
June 3: The main man Duncan Castles is now in on the act with The Times and the Daily Record. United want Bale to form a front three with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and the fee ‘is expected to exceed €100million’. This is then quoted elsewhere as the Red Devils preparing an £88million bid.
June 5: Big news from Don Balon, who believe there has been a breakthrough in talks between the two clubs, with Bale expecting his future to be resolved in early July.
June 15: Back to ESPN, who suggest that Julen Lopetegui’s arrival as Real boss has encouraged Bale to stay, but United are still interested.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) July 16, 2018
July 10: Juventus complete the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in a €100million move.
July 12: Thought that would stop the Bale speculation? Wrong! The Manchester Evening News say Mourinho and Woodward are in agreement in wanting Bale, and talks are now at an ‘advanced staged’.
July 16: Transfer guru John Percy in The Telegraph has it on good authority that Bale has held ‘positive’ talks with Lopetegui. United are still interested, but a deal looks increasingly unlikely. The Guardian have the same story. Surely it’s time to stop the madness?
July 17: Ahh, to The Express: ‘Bale wants assurances, and big ones. He wants to be loved at the Bernabeu and has been told that, in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, he will be their talisman.
‘But the Daily Mail suggest United may snap Bale up next week if Real go back on their word.’
We’re going back to bed.