The Wales international was heavily linked with a switch to Asia during the summer of 2019, but the belief was that he would be available on a free
A deal to take Gareth Bale to China was “90 per cent” done during the summer of 2019, claims Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach of CSL side Jiangsu Suning, with the proposed move collapsing once Real Madrid demanded a fee.
The ambitious Asian outfit believed that the door had been opened for them to take the Wales international as a free agent.
With Bale out of favour under Zinedine Zidane and continuing to face criticism over his form and fitness in Spain, a new challenge was sought by a man presented with a lucrative contract by Jiangsu.
An agreement was close, with personal details thrashed out, but Madrid changed their mind at the last moment and decided that they were not willing to part with an expensive asset without being financially rewarded.
Olaroiu told The National: “It was very close.
“The club agreed with his agent, his agent was there. We agreed with Madrid and in the last month – I don’t know what happened there, they lost some friendly games by a big score – Madrid changed their mind.
“First they said they would release him and we would have to pay his salary, then suddenly they said: ‘No, you have to pay for the transfer’.
“And paying the transfer and his salary was a little bit over the budget and so we looked for another player.
“But, actually, I know that it was done 90 per cent in the evening, and then in the morning everything changed. But [that was] Real Madrid, not us.”
Bale was looking forward to opening a new chapter in his career outside of Europe, with the 30-year-old’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, revealing that the plan was to help raise the profile of football in Asia.
He told AS: “He got an offer that was impossible to refuse. But Real Madrid wouldn’t sell him. They [the Chinese club] couldn’t pay what Madrid wanted.
“He wanted to create a legacy. He wanted to bring Chinese football up. He had a vision that he could make Chinese football great. He’s won everything that he can win, and he’s done it many times.
“It was to create a legacy, his name, to be the first great player to go to China. But it wasn’t to be… And the money was special too. It would have made him the highest paid player on Earth.
“He’s not interested in going anywhere. China was a completely different thing. He plays for Real Madrid, you know.”