Manchester United look set to miss out to Tottenham in the battle to land Gareth Bale.
Spurs are now “close” to agreeing a deal to bring the Welshman back to north London, according to agent Jonathan Barnett.
Bale has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford as an alternative to Jadon Sancho with a deal this summer looking increasingly unlikely.
The level of United’s interest in the 31-year-old has been hard to judge – but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s previous comments show the complex situation.
Asked about the Welshman when links first emerged in March, he highlighted the need to consider various factors.
Whilst he was keen not to discuss Bale directly, he generalised and stated that the club must not think short-term and highlighted the complex issue of weighing up a big signing.
And that underlines how he would likely be reluctant to move for Bale despite their growing need to contemplate a stop-gap solution if their Sancho pursuit is put on hold until next year.
“I can’t really comment on Gareth Bale or specific names because they’re property of other clubs,” Solskjaer said back in March.
“But we should look for quality players, definitely, and players who could improve us as a team.
“There’s so many factors you need to think about when you sign players.
“It’s not easy – I don’t know if it’s easy either – when you’re in the media or when you’re a supporter, you can think short-term.
Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.
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“We’ve got to think about the longevity as well, who’s going to fit in personality-wise.
“So, there’s so many things that we need to think about.”
For Spurs, there have not been the same reservations.
Unlike United, Bale is not an alternative to another target and instead is an opportunity they have weighed up and decided is worthwhile.
Real Madrid and Bale are keen on a permanent deal but Spurs are only discussing a loan for the time being.
And Bale has already spoken to Jose Mourinho with a move looking increasingly likely as Real Madrid look to get him off the books.
Agent Barnett said: “There’s a long way to go on some issues, but without doubt Gareth is closer to leaving Madrid than at any time in last seven years.
“The deal is complicated, but there’s reason to believe a deal is close and things could move very quickly if discussions continue to go well. Gareth has spoken to Jose and explained how Spurs have a special place in his heart.”