Gareth Bale
Despite two goals in his last three appearances, Gareth Bale continues to be linked with a transfer away from Real Madrid. Reuters

Real Madrid are set to make their first signing of the January transfer window, but much speculation continues to surround a potential blockbuster summer trade involving Manchester United. Top of La Liga and looking good in the defense of their Champions League crown, it appears unlikely that Carlo Ancelotti’s squad will receive any significant strengthening this month. However, they look to have won the race to sign the much-coveted Norwegian starlet Martin Odegaard.

The 16-year-old attacking midfielder has been courted by most of Europe’s top clubs after he became the youngest player in the history of the European Championship when turning out for Norway last October. According to Norwegian outlet Drammen, he has now decided to take his talents to the Bernabeu. An agreement now just needs to be struck with his current club Stromsgodest, with Odegaard reportedly due in Madrid on Thursday to complete the formalities on a three-and-a-half year contract.

With that deal set to be wrapped up, Real Madrid may well begin focusing on the far more lucrative transfers with which they continue be linked. The most significant of them all could involve the current most expensive player in history, Gareth Bale. The former Tottenham forward has been the subject of fervent rumors suggesting that he could be on his way back to the Premier League with Manchester United. And it appears that Bale’s future could well be linked to that of David de Gea.

Following the signing of former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes earlier this month, the future of Manchester United’s current No. 1 has been thrust further into the spotlight. De Gea has entered the final 18 months of his contract and is viewed by many as the man that Real Madrid want to succeed Iker Casillas.

United are understandably desperate to commit De Gea to a contract extension to give them a much stronger negotiating position should Real Madrid pursue their interest. The Premier League giants value the 24-year-old at £40 million, according to the Manchester Evening News. The publication suggests that Madrid are prepared to sell Bale, who has been subjected to boos from his own team’s supporters in recent weeks, and that United could land him with an offer of £40 million plus De Gea. There remains considerable doubt, however, that Bale will be so eager to bring an end to his time at Real Madrid just two years after a move he fought so hard to bring to fruition.

Real Madrid are likely to have to go close to the £85 million they paid to get Bale if they are to land rumored target Paul Pogba. Still only 21 years old, the France international has already developed into one of the world’s best midfielders since leaving Manchester United for Juventus in 2012. Unsurprisingly, he has been regularly linked with a transfer away from the Italian champions, including to Real Madrid, where his combination of physicality, athleticism and technique would doubtless add much to the midfield.

Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, recently hinted that the player would not remain in Turin for too much longer, although Juventus managing director Giuseppe Marotta followed up by stating that “we won’t entertain negotiations.”

While highly unlikely a transfer will happen this month, it could be a different story in the summer, as Ancelotti’s latest comments perhaps suggest.

“Paul Pogba is a great footballer and he can play anywhere, but we are not interested at the moment,” he said, according to Spanish sports daily AS.