Gareth Bale will put Chinese football on a new level if he decides to take up the reported £1m-a-week deal from Jiangsu Suning – although he could also end up playing in Italy for Inter Milan.
Reports in Spain on Friday night said the Wales star was in advanced talks to leave Real Madrid for around £50m after six years and head for the Far East and the Chinese Super League.
Real manager Zinedine Zidane said last weekend he thought it would be “best for everyone” if Bale’s departure could be arranged quickly — comments Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett branded “disrespectful” of a player who has helped his club to a Spanish league title and four Champions Leagues since arriving from Tottenham six years ago.
Now, Bale is said to be close to joining Jiangsu Suning – a move that would make him among the very highest paid players in the world.
It could, though, open the prospect of a loan move to Italian Serie A side Inter Milan, as Jiangsu’s owners also own a 70 per-cent stake in the San Siro club.
Former Shanghai SIPG director Mads Davidsen believes any deal for Bale to Jiangsu would be the biggest transfer in the history of Chinese football.
“There is no doubt that [if the deal happens], he would be the biggest player ever in China,” he said.
“I was still at Shanghai SIPG when we bought Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg and then later Oscar from Chelsea.
“We were among the biggest transfers ever in Chinese history but now it seems Bale would be. Not only in branding and reputation-wise, but also his level. He would be a massive attraction for football in China.”
One potential hurdle is that all Chinese clubs have to pay 100 per cent transfer tax on foreign signings, meaning Jiangsu Suning will effectively have to pay double to secure Bale’s services.
All proceeds from this transfer tax then go towards youth development in the country.
But the tax regulations designed to curb the spending of Chinese Super League clubs only apply on transfer fees and not player wages.
A move to China is understood to concern many in the Wales set-up and the FAW, who are worried about both his release terms for international matches and the effects of long-haul flights.
Bale’s future at Real Madrid has been the subject of intense speculation in recent month, but his fate was sealed when coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed he was keen to off-load the four-time Champions League winner in this transfer window.
“It’s nothing personal. There comes a time when things are done because they need to be done,” said Zidane of Bale.
“I’ve not got anything against him. We have to make decisions and change things, that’s all there is to it. You’re aware of the situation and there’ll be a change to it. The situation will change and it’s for the best for everyone. That’s how things go.”
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.”