Gareth Bale’s time at Real Madrid appears to be creeping towards an end.
The Wales international showed just what he is still capable of this season, scoring 16 goals in 34 games while on loan at Tottenham, outscoring some of the Premier League’s elite players in the process.
He has come in for some criticism, mainly from those in Spain, in recent years and by all accounts it looks as though there is too much water under the bridge for him to go back there and be a meaningful part of the squad next season.
The 31-year-old is now at something of a crossroads in his career.
It is thought that Bale, who has one year left to run on his contract, will begin negotiating his exit from Real Madrid this summer, with one report claiming he will seek half of his £13m salary as a pay-out.
That same outlet in Spain also suggested Bale would retire after this summer’s European Championships, however the player’s agent Jonathan Barnett quickly swatted away such suggestions on Wednesday morning.
The Wales star’s efforts this season serve as evidence that he can still ply his trade at the very top of the game, but where his future lies after his exploits at the Euros remains to be seen.
There have been reports that Spurs could be keen to get him back next term, especially if Harry Kane departs, while he has spoken fondly of MLS and has not ruled out a move Stateside.
But there will be clubs in the Premier League and across Europe who will no doubt have been watching with an intrigued eye as he slalomed through the Leicester City defence and smashed a hat-trick against Sheffield United.
Bale’s comments following his double against Leicester prompted more curious glances, when he admitted that he had made a decision over his future, but it would cause quite a stir.
“It’ll just have to be… it will have to happen after the Euros,” Bale told Sky Sports after the clash with the Foxes.
“I know what I’m doing, but it’ll just cause chaos if I say anything.”
When pressed on when the decision would be made public, Bale responded with a straight bat.
“All I’m thinking about now is finishing this season off strong and we meet up straight away for the Euros,” he added.
“I’m not thinking about anything else other than Wales.”
Where should Gareth Bale play next season? Let us know in the comments.
Some in this corner of the world are dreaming of Bale turning out for Cardiff City next season.
Bale’s uncle, Chris Pike, is a bona fide Bluebirds hero owing to his time here in the early 1990s, while the player himself has as recently as this season admitted he supports Cardiff, his hometown club.
Barring a substantial reduction in wages, perhaps even as much as a 95 percent decrease on his eye-watering £600,000 weekly pay packet he currently enjoys at Madrid, the prospect of him joining Cardiff appears remote at best.
However, the bookmakers’ have not ruled it out entirely, placing Cardiff equal with the likes of Manchester City for snatching his signature next season.
Cardiff fans have recirculated that famous photo of Bale holding the iconic South Wales Echo City shirt from the 1990s, while simultaneously begging him to return to the Welsh capital.
Could a Craig Bellamy-style return really be on the cards? Well, it’s highly unlikely, but there’s no harm in dreaming…
Gareth Bale next club odds:
(Odds via SkyBet, correct at time of publication)