Bale to Man United, Hazard to Barcelona, Mbappe to Real Madrid

José Mourinho is happy. But not that happy. Ever a master of passive-aggressiveness, he noted after the last friendly that he was pleased with the work that Manchester United have done so far in the transfer market, but that he was still a player short.

“To get three out of four, I thank the club for that. I would be happier if they gave me four of four but they did a great effort for me.”

Nudge, nudge, Ed. That final signing is widely known to be a wide attacker, with the negotiations with Inter Milan for Ivan Perišić seemingly ongoing since the beginning of time. However, there may be an even better wide attacker available that would satisfy both Mourinho’s personnel needs, and Ed Woodward’s need to secure more noodle sponsorship deals: the long coveted Gareth Bale.

According to a new report in Real Madrid mouthpiece Marca, Madrid are still definitely interested in signing Monaco wunderkind Kylian Mbappé, but only if Gareth Bale can first be moved on to make room in the attack. In contrast to Florentino Pérez’s usual approach of “buy first and figure it out later,” manager Zinedine Zidane is taking a more sensible approach to improving his team this summer, wary of upsetting the balance.

Despite having lost Alvaro Morata, Zidane does not want four attackers; Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Mbappé, in his squad.

Considering that managing the allocation of minutes between them would cause excessive conflict, it would also affect the opportunities of players called to play an important role, such as Asensio or Isco.

For Zidane, the good atmosphere in the squad is fundamental to achieving his goals.

Manchester United are the only club with a long-standing interest in Bale, the funds to secure his signature, and a natural sporting fit. Given that, this new report in a friendly outlet certainly seems like Madrid trying to rekindle interest in a deal that United had recently dismissed as a waste of time. Madrid aren’t quite pushing Bale out of the door, but they’re making it known that interest in him wouldn’t be discouraged.

Even with his less than impressive injury record, Bale would improve United immediately and unquestionably. A player of his ability, already proven as a dominant force in the Premier League, would elevate the team to another level. His fee may surpass the club record that United paid for Paul Pogba last summer, but that fee now looks quaint in light of PSG paying Neymar’s buyout clause. And after all, what’s the point of whoring the club out to every sponsor with a few million quid to offer if we can’t compete with the other clubs for the very best players?