Tony Gillan: Gareth Bale should forget China - and come to Sunderland instead!

As Jack Ross looks to do late transfer business, he may yet steam in for Gareth Bale

By Tony Gillan
Monday, 29 July, 2019, 18:30
Forget China, Tony Gillan thinks Gareth Bale is better utilised at Sunderland

Bale looked set to misguidedly sign for Jiangsu FC (江苏苏宁足球俱乐部) in the Chinese Super League. But Real Madrid kiboshed the move.

His agent must be furious. We certainly hope so.

What now? His manager sounded pretty keen to dispense with him

Admittedly, he wouldn’t be guaranteed first team football at Sunderland, but he might make the bench. Please yourself Gareth. Just bear in mind, you won’t be asked again.

At least he’s been spared a move east, where his grasp of Madarin wouldn’t extend to asking for a small cut loaf; and the mileage to away games is considerable.

His first game for Jiangsu could have been this Friday against Guangzhou (the lads); a hop and skip round trip of just 1,700 miles. Not an appealing thought by Megabus.

This for the privilege of playing alongside people who, with a couple of exceptions, he had probably never heard of.

He could have pitted his wits against Guangzhou’s former Sunderland legend ... er ... Tyias Browning.

In fairness, he would be leaving unquestionably the biggest football club in the world. So his next move, if there is one, can only be downwards.

But how far down? A move to China is tantamount to admitting to being a has-been; which Bale isn’t. So why even consider it? The answer is not exactly shrouded in mystery.

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The going rate for a footballer of Bale’s standing in “communist” China is evidently a million quid a week. If that motivates his next career move (which still remains to be seen), fair enough.

Good luck to him: just as long as he spares us comments about “going there for the challenge”.

The witless question: “Wouldn’t you like a million quid a week?” arises. Ask a relevant question instead.

Such as: “If you had £100m in the bank, would you take up a new job that offered no satisfaction, other than money that you have no use for other than to chuck onto the pile?”

I don’t think I would actually. It’s boring.

It was boring when Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham, Henry and others went to the USA for the same reason. People barely remember which clubs they played for over there, let alone care.

Playing abroad for money you can’t conceivably need offers no footballing legacy. Whatever aging superstars do in the USA and China won’t be well remembered worldwide.

Signing for Manchester United for a paltry £350,000 per week would present Bale with a real challenge. More romantic still would be a return to Southampton for less than half that. The breadline.

Even better would be Bale to Sunderland. There will always be someone to stand him a Tia Maria in the Victory Club in Hetton. Using his celebrity he could bag a free frizzy ponytail perm at Scolli’s on Chester Road.

Over to you Gareth. But remember: for all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been”.