Gareth Bale needs a new home. Of course, the winger is embraced by every football fan in Wales – he will never need to buy a pint in Cardiff ever again – but his club future is up in the air after leaving Real Madrid as a free agent at the end of last season. It’s not yet clear where Bale will pitch up next.
Several clubs have been linked. Many expected Tottenham Hotspur to make an offer to Bale, but recent reports claim the 32-year-old isn’t in Antonio Conte’s plans for next season. Cardiff City would reportedly like Bale to join in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, but this would require the five-time Champions League winner to take a step down to the Championship.
A move to MLS has been mooted as a possibility while Rangers have even been mentioned – they signed Bale’s international teammate Aaron Ramsey last season. However, the best option on the table for Bale would appear to be Roma who are apparently in the race to sign the winger at the request of Jose Mourinho.
At Roma, Bale would receive regular game time, but Mourinho would have other options to rotate and ensure the Welshman isn’t fatigued by the time the 2022 World Cup arrives. The approach favoured by Mourinho as Roma manager would also be a good fit for Bale who needs space to play his best football.
Under Mourinho, Roma play a game based around opening up space in quick transition. Bale would give them another edge in the final third while the slightly slower pace of the Italian game, compared to the Premier League, would suit a player who increasingly has to consider the physical toll of the minutes he plays.
Henrikh Mkhitayran is expected to be on his way out at the Stadio Olimpico, with the Armenian reportedly close to signing for Inter, while Nicolo Zaniolo is a target for AC Milan, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur among others. While Mourinho currently has options, that might change before the start of the 2022/23 season.
At this stage of his career, Bale seems primarily focused on what he can still achieve with Wales. This motivation will be a significant factor in the decision the 32-year-old makes this summer. He needs a club that will allow him to prepare for the 2022 World Cup as he sees fit. That might see Bale limit his game time in the weeks before the tournament starts.
But Bale would surely like a new challenge at club level too, and Roma would give him that. Bale has proven his quality in the Premier League and La Liga, not to mention the Champions League, but has never tested himself in Serie A. A move to Roma this summer would allow him to tick another country and league off his list. What’s more, Roma will be in next season’s Europa League – he would still have a continental stage.
Like with all transfers, a move to Roma would come with risk attached. Mourinho needs good results early on next season to prove he is taking his team in the right direction. While Roma won the Europa Conference League last term, they were only able to finish sixth in the Serie A table. Better was expected of Mourinho and he is under pressure to prove he can still push his side up the standings.
Bale still has plenty to offer at the top level, as demonstrated by some of his impressive and eye-catching recent performances for Wales in 2022 World Cup qualifying, but needs a club to embrace him after a number of difficult years in Spain. Roma could offer him everything he’s looking for.