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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid eye Bale sale: Three potential Premier League suitors

With Real Madrid considering selling Gareth Bale in January, the Welshman could be the solution to the problems at three different English clubs.

Bale: Premier League clubs' struggles boost sale prospects
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With Gareth Bale understood to be making plans to leave Real Madrid next summer, AS has learned that the LaLiga club are now beginning to consider offloading the Welshman as early as January.

And although China and Major League Soccer should not be ruled out as destinations if player and club do agree to part company in the mid-season window, the struggles being endured by three Premier League sides in particular could well have a hand in taking the 30-year-old back to the English top flight.

It has long been said that Bale's brand of football is a perfect fit for the Premier League - and it is a view also held in the forward's camp. Despite an up-and-down Madrid career, he retains a stellar reputation in England, albeit one that has not persuaded any of its clubs to make an offer big enough to either Madrid or the player himself, who currently earns around 15m euros after tax in Spain.

However, the tough times that Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are going through could serve to change that.

United, Spurs and Arsenal shape up as potential Bale suitors

Of the three, it is Arsenal who are in the least dire straits: the Gunners are fifth, in the Europa League places, and are within four points of the Champions League spots. Bale's attacking firepower makes him an attractive possible signing at the Emirates, although coach Unai Emery already has a forward line which, while not immune to inconsistency, is not short on potency: Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang (eight goals this season), Nicolas Pépé (three goals and three assists) and Alexandre Lacazette (two goals). Behind them, Emery's options also include the young summer signing Gabriel Martinelli (five goals and one assist).

United, on the other hand, are down in seventh and have a Premier League goal haul (13) matched or bettered by no fewer than 10 other clubs in the division. The Red Devils needed penalties to overcome League One minnows Rochdale in the first round of the Carabao Cup, and the doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side grow almost with every passing week. With Paul Pogba's focus more on the Bernabéu than life in Manchester, Bale could be the man to take on the role of United's leader.

Things are even worse for Tottenham, who are 12th in the Premier League and are as many points from the Europa League places - four - as the relegation zone. They're not lacking in talent and goal-scoring ability (Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min...), but it's as if they're a team who can't get back into gear since last term's run to the Champions League final. Their stuttering domestic form has also been on show in Europe: before picking up their first win of the campaign by beating Red Star 5-0 last week, their opening two matches yielded a disappointing 2-2 draw with Olympiacos and a 7-2 home thumping by Bayern Munich.

On top of that, Tottenham were the victims of an act of giant-killing in September, exiting the Carabao Cup in the first round after losing on penalties to League Two Colchester United. The club where Bale made his name after joining from Southampton, Spurs are the potential suitor with which the player has the greatest affinity. A move back to Tottenham would be like a move back home.