There are many peculiar transfer rumours that do the rounds on the internet in modern football.
But in 10-15 years of following transfer rumours on the internet I can’t remember coming across many that were quite as peculiar as this one.
According to a story published by English news outlet The Independent on Thursday afternoon, Inter Milan are ready to make a move for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale should the Spanish giants decide to put him up for sale this summer.
Bale, 28, is coming towards the end of his fifth season in Madrid, for whom he has made 182 appearances and scored 81 goals in all competitions, and is ‘adamant’ that he does not intend to move on this summer.
However the European champions are looking to revamp their attack this summer by signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain and would need to carry out ‘significant sales’ in order to get their wish.
Despite being a favourite of Madrid president Florentino Perez, therefore, the Wales international is no longer thought to be untouchable and could be sacrificed to make way for the Brazilian should a satisfactory offer arrive for him.
Enter Inter. (Stop giggling.)
“Real had long believed they could go to Manchester United and offer them Bale for an easy deal,” Miguel Delaney writes, “but sources have told The Independent that the Old Trafford hierarchy now have “close to zero interest in Bale”.
“That is both down to his age and cost, and the fact they recently signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.
“Many other Premier League clubs are said to be similarly put off his age, although some have indicated that could change if both his wages and Real’s presumed asking price came down.
“As it is, the only club interested at the current prices are the newly wealthy Inter Milan, who have a long-standing interest in Bale ever since his name-making performances against them in the Champions League in 2010-11.”
Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘what a load of nonsense’, ‘this makes absolutely no sense’, ‘it’s classic attention-seeking paper talk’, ‘there is no way on earth that Inter could afford Bale or convince him to come’, etc. and so on.
And you would think that with good reason. Because this is utterly preposterous.
It’s important here to respect the journalist who wrote this article, along with whatever sources he has used for it, because neither Delaney nor his contacts will have decided to invent this story out of thin air.
But it doesn’t take a great deal of digging to realise that, no matter which way you spin it, this is almost entirely unfeasible.
The premise upon which The Independent have built this story is that Inter are ‘newly wealthy’, and would thus be able to afford Bale, but we all know far too well by now that those two words are not an accurate reflection of Inter’s current financial predicament.
If Madrid were looking to sell Bale this summer in order to finance a move for Neymar, one can only imagine that their asking price would be mouth-wateringly high - and according to this story, it’s high enough to dissuade all the Premier League’s top clubs from making an offer - and if that were the case Inter would have no chance of satisfying their request.
At this moment in time, according to reports in both Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport this week, Inter are not even certain that they will be able to cough up the money they require to keep Joao Cancelo and Rafinha at the club after the conclusion of their loan spells, so the prospect of them going to Real Madrid at the end of the season with €80 million or more for Bale is, quite frankly, laughable.
And that’s without considering Bale’s wages. In 2016 the player signed a new deal with Real Madrid that reportedly saw his salary rise to €15 million per year (according to Calcio e Finanza), which translates to roughly €400,000 per week.
Compare that to the €4.5 million that Inter’s current highest-earning player, or rather Mauro Icardi, is receiving, and you begin to understand just how far-fetched this story is. Unless Bale is willing to slash his wages by over 50% to come to Italy it seems a little unworkable, if you ask me.
The only way this would make even the slightest bit of sense is if Inter were planning to sell Ivan Perisic - perhaps to raise the €30-40 million they reportedly need to raise before 30 June in order to break even, as their settlement agreement with UEFA obliges them to do - as then we would need another left winger. But even then it’s difficult to imagine us having the money to bring Bale in as a replacement.
In short, therefore, this is almost certainly nonsense. But as a wise man once said, it costs nothing to dream.