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Daily Drip

Is Real Madrid Outcast Gareth Bale Set to Move to China?

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If you’re a football agent and you’ve got a client on your hands who is getting a little restless or is being frozen out at their club, or if you just want to stoke up some transfer rumors in the hopes of landing a bigger contract, one of the first tactics that seems to come to mind these days is to whip up talk of a big money move to China. The latest player linked with just such a move? Welshman Gareth Bale.

The Champion’s League winner’s days at Real Madrid seem numbered after manager Zinedine Zidane was non-too-subtle about wanting rid of the winger. “Bale’s not in the squad because the club is working on his exit,” Zidane told the media this weekend. “We will see what happens in the coming days.”

Cue fevered speculation that Bale — whose options in Europe appear limited — could soon be gracing the Chinese Super League. The Guardian‘s Sid Lowe kicked off the latest round of gossip by suggesting that Bale “could” be headed to the CSL because, “China’s Super League clubs can match Bale’s wage demands and there is a determination to continue signing big names.”

No specific suitors for Bale were mentioned in that article, with Lowe seemingly taking the time-honored “unnamed Chinese club” route. But The Telegraph soon piled in with a report that claimed, “Beijing Guoan want to make Gareth Bale highest-paid player in Chinese football history.”

Chinese media platform Titan Sports then took to Twitter to announce that they had it on good authority that Bale was headed to Nanjing, with Jiangsu Suning apparently keen to bring in the former Spurs player:

And that all prompted The Sun — not exactly an outlet known for reliable reporting — to announce that Bale was joining Jiangsu on “an incredible 1 million GBP [1.25 million USD] a week transfer”.

So where does that leave us? Well, it’s not particularly clear right now. It would be an enormous move if Bale did sign for a Chinese club, but if previous transfer gossip involving China has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t get too excited before any official unveilings. Watch this space.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.