Gareth Bale has attracted his fair share of attention throughout the summer amid murmurs of his potential use as makeweight for more big arrivals at Real Madrid.
The Wales international has seen doubt cast over his status at the Bernabeu after being forced to sit out large portions of 2016-17 due to a series of muscular injuries.
Bale managed to contribute only nine goals in 27 appearances across all competitions last season – his worst output for Los Blancos since completing a then world-record move from Tottenham in 2013.
The £85 million signing has long been considered the eventual successor to Cristiano Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu, though his future has seemed anything but certain in recent months.
Talk of a return to the Premier League with Manchester United has gathered momentum of late as Madrid consider their options for landing Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.
The Ligue 1 champions are believed to have slapped a staggering £161 million price tag on the 18-year-old striker – a stance that has done little to deter their Spanish counterparts.
Selling Bale would knock off a great deal of the cost to prise Mbappe away from Monaco, but the former has now suggested his employers could instead be forced to pay cash only.
Asked if he was prepared to compete with the youngster should they become teammates, the 28-year-old said, per ESPN: “I feel like I’m happy to fight for my place. We’re all fighting for our places anyway. It’s nothing new in football, it happens at every club, you just carry on like normal.
“I’m concentrating on my football, I’m concentrating on getting my fitness up, I’m happy I’m playing football, I’m winning trophies, so yeah, I don’t want to move. There’s not really much more I can say.”
COMPETING WITH MBAPPE
Prompted to address the wider rumours surrounding his future with the La Liga champions, Bale insisted it’s nothing he isn’t used to.
“Everything has gone as normal like it has every year. There’s been the normal speculation like there is every year but, yeah, I think obviously it’s a little bit more hyped up because we’re playing Man United. It’s one of those things.
“The club hasn’t said anything, they’re happy with everything and, yeah, for me, I just want to concentrate now on getting fit, on getting ready for the new season and playing as well as I can.
“[The speculation] doesn’t bother me at all, I really don’t read it. Obviously there’s been a lot of it over the last few days that I get told about, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve had it about 10, 11 years now so it’s nothing new. [My family] are all settled. Everything is good, we’re enjoying it.”
With few deadlier players in world football than Mbappe right now, Bale is certainly a brave man to rate his chances of maintaining a regular place under Zinedine Zidane.
Madrid could well afford to purchase the Monaco teenager without cashing in on the most expensive player in their squad, though there’s plenty of life left in the summer window.