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Bale & Mourinho: Why Real Madrid star must show he WANTS Man Utd move

COMMENT: So how much does he want it? How much does Gareth Bale want to join Manchester United? This isn't anything rhetorical. This is the question. Indeed, the challenge. This is what Jose Mourinho is putting to the Real Madrid attacker as we speak.

Two past videos summate Mourinho's strategy in his efforts to bring Bale back to the Premier League and Manchester United. One involving he and the Welshman. The other Cristiano Ronaldo and one of his great soldiers of the past.

Bale does want the transfer to happen. Indeed, since Kiev, his two goals and those sledgehammer comments about "wanting to play more", it has been the player who has made the first move. The latest from England being Jonathan Barnett, his prime agent, has approached United in the past week to make it clear they're open to negotiations. A demand of €500,000-a-week elicited barely a nod from Ed Woodward, United's vice-chairman exec. Alexis Sanchez's £515,000-a-week wages mean such requests are now the norm of United and the Glazer family.

This isn't about money. United have plenty of that. Mourinho's squad are paid their share of it. This, for the manager, is about actually earning that wage. He wants Bale, before even setting foot inside the Carrington complex, to stretch himself. To do something out of character. This was the message relayed by Woodward to Barnett. If Bale wants the move to happen, he needs to make it clear at his end of the table.

This is where those two videos come into play. Cycle back almost a year. In California. At Levi's Stadium. Bale and Mourinho encountered eachother. And before their International Cup tie, the pair embraced with Mourinho telling the Welshman: "I couldn't sign you because you didn't say anything".

The United manager said it with a smile on his face. But the message was clear. If Bale wants out of Madrid, he needs to confront Florentino Perez, the Real president. He needs to speak up. And not only to kick negotiations to the next level. But also for Mourinho's peace of mind.

Bale will arrive as United's talisman. More than Alexis. Certainly more than Paul Pogba. Everything will run through him. On the pitch, Mourinho can be sure the Wales captain will deliver. But it is away from matchday that the manager wants to be sure of what he's getting.

It's common knowledge now. Inside the Real locker room Bale has few, if any, friends. His closest teammate is Luka Modric, but his failure to grasp the basics of Spanish has left him isolated, even after five years with the club.

Is that the ruthless culture? The constant politicking of Real Madrid? Or is it Bale and his indifference towards the club and his craft? Mourinho, this column has learned, is convinced it's the former - which is why, even with the Welshman's injury problems, he has pursued his signing ever since he put pen to paper on his own United contract two years ago.

Iker Casillas. Sergio Ramos. The Madrid media. Mourinho has seen and experienced first-hand what Bale has had to endure. Indeed, one confidant of the former Real coach quipped to this column just last month: "The thought is it's probably best he (Bale) didn't learn Spanish as a lot of the stuff thrown at him has gone over his head!"

But there is still a nagging doubt. Is Bale prepared to carry United on his shoulders? Does he have it in him to go from support cast to leading man? This is why Mourinho set his challenge - via Woodward - last week. He wants Bale to slay that dragon. To assert himself and demand from Florentino that he be allowed to move on.

It was August 2012. In Madrid. Mourinho had just been reunited with his former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien. A video - via Real - was released of Florentino greeting Essien outside his office. Significantly, also present was Cristiano Ronaldo.

A meeting between Ronaldo, this column learned at the time, and Florentino had just broken up. The topic was a pay-rise being demanded by the Portuguese. He was there on his own. No entourage. No Jorge Mendes. Ronaldo met with his president face-to-face to discuss terms. He was a year younger than what Bale is today.

It's that purpose. That assertiveness. That's what Mourinho is seeking from Bale. He needs to know the Welshman is willing to break out of himself. As he's shown over these past two seasons. From Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw, through to even David de Gea, Mourinho will mentally take his players to the brink.

He needs to know Bale has it in him to handle it. Mourinho needs to know how much Bale really wants this United challenge.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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