A disappointing campaign, by their lofty standards, has perhaps put Real Madrid in the previously unthinkable position of putting both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale up on the transfer block.
The 30-year-old Ronaldo, whose 45 goals this term have put him only 13 back of Madrid’s all-time leader and legend Raul, is reportedly contemplating his options away from the Santiago Bernabeu after the club’s failures in La Liga and Champions League. Bale, whose faced the wrath of Spanish media throughout his second season with Los Blancos, could also be on his way back to the English Premier League, but conflicting reports leave his standing with Madrid officials unclear.
Following the disastrous letdown to Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, and undoubtedly in part to Barcelona’s La Liga crowning, Ronaldo “wants to clarify his position” at Madrid and discuss the squad’s future plans with president Florentino Perez before he explores a projected £89 million transfer to Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain, according to a recent report from Marca.
PSG owner Al Khelaifi is evidently willing to pay the massive sum, albeit if he legally can under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, in order to team Ronaldo with striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defender David Luiz for a run at Champions League.
Yet, Marca reports, Ronaldo won’t consider the PSG option, or any others, until he better understands Perez’s summer plans. And once he does, he’ll make a decision.
Though the fee would be a new record, and Madrid could certainly find ways to spend it, letting go of and then replacing such a transcendent player of Ronaldo’s ilk could set Madrid back years behind a mighty Barcelona squad that already has Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez locked down for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, Madrid believes Ronaldo has at minimum two years of top flight play left in his legs, and there’s little reason to believe he can’t return them to Champions League and domestic glory next season.
Marca indicated Madrid won’t “force” Ronaldo to remain at the Bernabeu, but that the younger Bale is the only player they are unwilling to release.
Now 25 and wrapping up his second year in Madrid after they paid a massive £85 million to acquire him from Tottenham, Bale’s production slipped from 22 goals last term to 17 in 48 matches this year, and he didn’t provide that magical wonder goal in the Copa Del Rey like he did last season.
But he is five years younger than Ronaldo, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on why Bale’s regressed.
For one, his agent Johnathan Barnett, insisted the players surrounding his client are the culprit.
“Real have to work with Gareth and pass the ball to him more. Give him more of the ball and let him show everybody what he’s good at,” Barnett told the Telegraph earlier this month. "He’s going to be the best player at Real Madrid when his team-mates work with him and help him. Hopefully Real will come to terms with this."
Then there’s former Madrid and Wales manager John Toshack, who actually gave a 16-year-old Bale his first shot on the international stage. After calling Barnett an unprintable word, Toshack couldn’t parse exactly why his former player has struggled of late. But he also hailed Bale’s immense talents.
"The solution? It doesn't only depend on Bale," Toshack said according to Daily Mirror. "It depends on what’s going on around him. How long will Cristiano carry on playing from the left? What if he left?
"Those who know about football are the ones who have to take decisions, not the ones in charge of the current accounts. If I were at Madrid, I know perfectly well what I'd do.”
Less than two years removed from shelling out millions for Bale, selling him off now could prove disastrous for Perez and might put his job in jeopardy. Either way, major changes to Los Blancos roster appear imminent.