MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United are interested in signing Gareth Bale this summer but have been given no indication Real Madrid are willing to sell, sources have told ESPN FC.
Sources close to United have insisted the club are always in the market to buy the best players in the world — of which they consider Bale to be one.
But they are keen to avoid a protracted transfer saga and will only seriously consider a move if they are given encouragement by Real Madrid or Bale’s representatives.
Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, is due to meet Bernabeu chiefs to discuss his future after the Wales forward told reporters following the Champions League triumph over Liverpool that he had become frustrated by a lack of opportunities .
He admitted to being “disappointed” at not starting the final in Kiev despite scoring five goals in the last four league games of the season.
He came off the bench against Liverpool to score twice in the 3-1 win to earn Real Madrid a record 13th victory in Europe’s top club competition.
Zinedine Zidane gave a lukewarm response to questions about the 28-year-old’s long-term prospects after the game but sources have told ESPN FCthe Frenchman’s shock resignation as coach on Thursday has made it more likely Bale will stay.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Bale’s preference is to remain at Real Madrid, where he has a contract until 2022, but only if he gets assurances about being given a more prominent role next season. That appears more likely now Zidane has gone.
United signed Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid in 2014 after being offered the chance to buy the Argentinian by intermediaries working on behalf of the Spanish giants.
They were also offered Mesut Ozil in 2013 before he joined Arsenal and James Rodriguez last summer before his move to Bayern Munich.
On both occasions, United asked to be kept informed of developments but turned down the opportunity to make offers.
Sources have told ESPN FC that United would be interested in discussing a move for Bale — who they tried to sign before his move from Southampton to Tottenham 2007 and from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013 — but only if he is deemed surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu or he demands to leave to find more regular first-team football.
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.