Cristiano Ronaldo's exit has no bearing on Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid, with talks still required with the Bernabeu hierarchy, the Wales international's agent has told ESPN FC.
Bale opened up uncertainty over where he would be playing next season directly following his match-winning display in the Champions League final victory over Liverpool, when he voiced frustration at losing his starting place for the biggest games under then-coach Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane's exit, then Ronaldo's €100 million departure for Juventus, could see Bale now taking a more central role in both the team and the club's overall project -- although club president Florentino Perez could move to sign a new high-profile replacement such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe or Eden Hazard."
Amid all this upheaval, Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, has told ESPN FC that the reported Manchester United target's thinking over his future is not directly affected by the Portugal captain no longer being around. A meeting with Bernabeu chiefs is still needed to talk about his client's situation, despite some local media reports that the sit-down had been cancelled as there was now nothing really to discuss.
Bale, who is due back for the start of preseason training at Madrid's Valdebebas facility next Monday morning for a first conversation with new coach Julen Lopetegui, was among the Madrid players to publicly tweet a heartfelt farewell to their departing teammate.
An incredible player and a top guy! It has been a pleasure to play alongside you for the last 5 years. Good luck for the future my friend 🏆🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/KBYLMYaWjP— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) July 10, 2018
Lopetegui is very close to Isco, Bale's main rival for a place in the Madrid XI in recent campaigns, and made the Andalusian a key member of his senior La Roja side. Other Blancos squad members Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio were also named by the Basque in his 23-man squad for the World Cup.
Bale is under contract at the Bernabeu until the end of the 2021-22 season, having signed a six-year deal in October 2016. Although regularly linked with a return to the Premier League throughout his five seasons in Spain, he has always dismissed the idea when speaking publicly, at least until falling down the pecking order under Zidane in recent months.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Manchester United will push hard to sign Bale if Madrid's chief decision-maker Perez decides to cash in on the player. The Old Trafford outfit see themselves as his most likely destination should he leave the Bernabeu, although Bale himself spoke of his admiration for Bayern Munich when in Germany for a UCL semifinal last April.