Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was on July 26, 2019 on the verge of signing a "£1 million a week" deal with Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning, reports claimed. The 30-year-old Welshman has already been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane that he does not form part of his future plans at the Spanish giants. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

  • Source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said Welsh player’s family blocked move
  • The 77-time capped Welsh international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans

MADRID: Gareth Bale’s move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning collapsed on Sunday after Real Madrid canceled the proposed deal due to wrangling over the fee, a source told AFP on Sunday.
Bale, 30, who has been in the Spanish capital since 2013, was expected to join the Chinese Super League outfit on a three-year-deal worth £1 million ($1.1 million) a week.
The source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said the Welsh player’s family had blocked a potential move to Asia.
Marca said those close to Bale had asked his representatives to look for clubs in Europe “before definitively saying yes to Jiangsu Suning’s offer.”
The Chinese transfer window closes on Wednesday.
The 77-time capped Welsh international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans at the Bernabeu.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger came off the bench to play half an hour in Real’s record 7-3 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid in a friendly match in New Jersey on their pre-season tour of the United States on Friday.
Real boss Zidane said last weekend he thought it would be “best for everyone” if Bale’s departure could be arranged quickly — comments Bale’s agent branded “disrespectful” of a player who helped the side to a Spanish league title and four Champions Leagues since arriving from Tottenham six years ago.
However, injuries have limited Bale to fewer than 80 starts in La Liga in the last four seasons while he has been the subject of criticism in the Spanish media for his struggles with the language and even the time he had spent on the golf courses.
Zidane insisted he meant no disrespect before Bale came on as a substitute in a midweek 3-2 friendly win over Arsenal, also in the United States.
“He had a good game and I’m happy for him,” Zidane said at the time.
“I do not know what’s going to happen, for now he’s with us. It did not change anything,” he added.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has already insisted that any deal which sees the Welshman leave the Bernabeu would have to be a permanent one and not one that sees him shipped out on loan.
“There will be no makeshift deals to get him out of the club,” said Barnett.
“Gareth is one of the best players on the planet. I can guarantee you he will not be going on loan to any club.”
Real suffered a nightmare campaign last season, finishing third in the table and 19 points behind champions and bitter rivals Barcelona.
They were also knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax in the last 16 stage.
The Bale transfer saga is just the latest grim development for Real and Zidane.
Serbian starlet Luka Jovic hobbled off in the first half of the defeat to Atletico.
Zidane can only hope the news on his injury will be better than that of Marco Asensio, who could miss most if not all of the La Liga season after rupturing a knee ligament against Arsenal on Tuesday.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.