Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Southampton blocked Gareth Bale’s move to Manchester United before his eventual transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007.
The 23-year-old has had a fantastic season that was capped by winning the PFA Player of the Year and Football Writers Player of the Year double this week, beating van Persie to both awards.
Widely regarded as one of the best players in the world this year, Bale has been strongly linked with a move to United in the future but the move could of happened a long time ago.
Speaking at this mornings press conference, Ferguson revealed that Southampton stopped his move to Old Trafford.
“We were disappointed in Southampton at the time because we were first there, but they never came back to us,” Ferguson said.
“He (Bale) was a left-back when we tried to sign him. It wasn’t until Harry (Redknapp) went to Tottenham that he converted him into a wide left player.
“He reminds me a bit of when we signed Lee Sharpe. He was a six foot, gangly, slim boy, but all of a sudden. he was built like a light heavyweight boxer.
“Bale is the same in the way he has developed in the last two years physically. He has matured very well.
This season Bale has scored 19 goals and five assists in 29 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur but it is more the quality of the goals and his performances that have earned him plaudits.
He is unplayable when on form – the tell tale sign of a world class player. Pace, acceleration and a ferocious left foot all combine to make him an extremely dangerous player.
Under Andre Villas-Boas, Bale has drifted inside a lot more much like Ronaldo did as he progressed at United and it has allowed him to operate in a much freer role that has devastated defences.
But despite his progression, Ferguson feels that van Persie is unlucky to have missed out on the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year Awards over the course of the season.
Ferguson continued: “Maybe Robin is a little bit unlucky in that he hit a quiet spell for a while and didn’t score at the time Bale was bashing them in from all sorts of distances, so he had the edge.
“But in the last few weeks, Robin’s performances have been fantastic when Bale has been quiet. His game has tapered off a bit.
“I don’t think you could dispute it (the vote). Some of the goals Bale has scored this year have been fantastic.”
I do think Ferguson is right given the fact that Bale only started to shine from December onwards but in the same way, van Persie had a ten game streak where he didn’t score.
Bale would slot seamlessly into United’s current team with the squad desperate for a threat from the wings, especially a left footed one.
But given the season he has had and the fact that he plays for Tottenham, United would have to pay somewhere in the region of £40-50 million to sign him. And although Ferguson has said that the Glazers have always stumped up the cash when he has needed it, that is a lot of money considering the clubs debts are still in excess of £350 million.
At 23, Bale has got the world at his feet. Right now, he can’t be held in the same esteem as Ronaldo or Messi but if Tottenham Hotspur can secure Champions League qualification and Bale can replicate this seasons form, then his stock (and price) will continue to rise.