It's of little surprise that big questions loom over the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Major changes to Real Madrid's roster were widely expected with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s fates both intertwined and in doubt with the arrival of new manager Rafael Benitez after a disappointing 2014-2015 season under Carlo Ancelotti. The query most often put to Los Blancos supporters is: Should Ronaldo or Bale leave? And at certain points this summer it appeared Madrid president Florentino Perez was close to ending one or both of the player’s stays at the Bernabeu.
For now, it appears Ronaldo’s transfer speculation fire continues to burn while Bale’s future seems more intact with the Spanish giants.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced in the Middle East that Paris Saint-Germain, owned by Qatar Investment Authority, placed a £85.5 million bid on Ronaldo only to have Madrid reject the attempt, according to AS.
Evidently, Perez met with PSG’s ownership on July 4 and the bid was made while questions arose over whether Ronaldo was happy with the switch of managers from Ancelotti to Benitez. Furthermore, Madrid’s perceived favoritism towards Bale was also viewed as reason enough for Ronaldo to desire a new club.
However, Perez staunchly turned down what would be a new record transfer fee and the speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future continues to swirl in Madrid. Most recently, the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Manchester United keeps rearing its head. United manager Louis van Gaal once again stoked the transfer fire in his comments to Express.
“He may come,” Van Gaal said, “Yes, of course the fans would love it and so would I. But it’s not possible. Why not? Because you have his club Real Madrid, you have Ronaldo and then you have Manchester United – and how much Manchester United want to spend.
“Of course, we are still looking. When it is possible to buy players from that level at a reasonable price then we shall do that because they can contribute and make us better. We are looking for much more creativity.”
The Dutch coach has scoured the globe for more attacking talent, and Ronaldo could certainly help the Red Devils make a run back atop the Premier League table after coming in fourth last year. Ronaldo has spoken very fondly of his time at Old Trafford, but as Van Gaal mentioned, the price would be very high even for the likes of United. Though Van Gaal spoke in a roundabout way, and didn’t really nix the chance of what would be the biggest transfer of this or perhaps the last five summers.
At no point has it been suggested that Ronaldo’s handed Madrid an ultimatum with himself and Bale at the center, but it certainly appears like Los Blancos are weighing the possibility of letting at least one go.
The 30-year-old Ronaldo is coming off one of his greatest seasons, totaling 61 goals, and he is under contract until 2018. However, Madrid may question whether or not Ronaldo has enough left in his legs to guide the squad deep into Champions League at least one more time. There might be the perception that if there was a time to let Ronaldo go, this might be the best time.
Bale is four years Ronaldo’s junior, and though his form fell off in his second season with Madrid, much of the lag in play was attributed to Ronaldo’s perceived ball hogging and Ancelotti’s insistence on playing Bale away from his desired position on the pitch.
And for what it’s worth, Wales manager Chris Coleman believes his star will remain in Madrid despite the interest from such top clubs like United, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
“There is pressure in playing for Real Madrid but Gareth is one of those players who can handle that,” Coleman told The Guardian. “The demands of playing in the Premier League and the demands of playing in La Liga are different. From our point of view we get a fresh Gareth Bale – if he’s in the English Premier League physically it’s more demanding.”
The likelihood of both players leaving Madrid seems all the more unlikely given the heavy speculation surrounding forward Karim Benzema. Daily Telegraph reported Arsenal are preparing to up their bid to £35 million for the masterful French scorer, and his exit would almost certainly cause Madrid to reconsider any move for Bale or Ronaldo.