If there is one thing certain about Villa’s transfer activity is that it is unpredictable.
Villa seem to also be adopting a much broader strategy towards recruitment, seemingly more balanced, without a single focus in one area. This extends to age-groups as well, with the club scouring the market for emerging youth talent as well as a stated intention to acquire “opportunistic” players that become available.
Good examples of such opportunism are fresh in the memory, with Philippe Coutinho’s deal taking full advantage of Barcelona’s financial plight and Lucas Digne lured from Everton after a fall-out with then manager Rafa Benitez. Both purchases involved the needs to be agile in the transfer market and in acheiving them served only the improve Villa’s squad.
GARETH BALEEmbed from Getty Images
An interesting and not completely implausible transfer link to surface is to free agent Gareth Bale.
The 32 year old is out of contract from Real Madrid, and the highly decorated attacking midfielder will likely have no end of offers from sides across Europe and further afield.
What makes this rumour particularly interesting is that he represents another opportunity for Villa to add a player with undeniable quality to the squad and raise the profile of the club once again.
The big question is whether this would be a sensible or indeed logical move. Bale, who will likely represent Wales at this winters World Cup in Qatar, will need game-time in a top league to ensure that he isn’t overlooked. Villa are also in a balancing act in forward positions, with Coutinho’s arrival stifling appearances and likely frustrating club record signing Emi Buendia.
There are also question marks as to the 5x Champions League winners drive and motivation, with some critics having levelled his interest in golf having detracted from his footballing career. His minutes on the pitch for Madrid have dwindled significantly in recent seasons. Bale also did little to help the perception of having the wrong priorities in 2020 by holding up a flag after Wales’ Euro qualification saying; “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order.”
Hobbies aside, Bale has certainly performed at the elite level of European football for a number of years, but is arguably now on the downward plateau of his career. What Villa could save in any fee, would need to be negated by what would likely be considerable wage demands. The Welshman was Real’s third biggest earner, taking home a whopping £28.8 million a year, equating to around £554,000 a week.
However, there is always room for negotiation. When Philippe Coutinho agreed to make his loan from Barca permanent, club CEO Christian Purslow publicly confirmed that the Brazilian international made a significant wage cut in doing so.
The final obstacle, should Steven Gerrard cement any firm interest, is that of the competition. Of the many clubs names cited as keen on Bale, Newcastle stands out, less for any attraction, but for their desperation to raise their profile with a ‘name’ signing. It’s conceivable that the Saudi owned club would be willing and able to fork out a significant salary for Bale, but it remains unclear whether top players (as with the LIV golf tour) will risk association with PIF.
This is a rumour to keep an eye on as it develops throughout the summer, but on recent history, rule nothing out at this point.Embed from Getty Images