Bale nearing CSL switch 1
Bale nearing CSL switch 2
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale on the ball during his team’s 7-3 International Champions Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid in East Rutherford, New. Jersey on Friday. The Wales international is widely expected to leave Real for Jiangsu Suning in the coming days. [Photo/AP]

Welsh superstar reportedly close to sealing mega-money Jiangsu Suning deal

Gareth Bale is closing on a blockbuster move to Jiangsu Suning in what would be the biggest transfer in Chinese Super League history.

Reports in Britain suggest Bale’s representatives are putting the finishing touches to a three-year deal with the Nanjing-based club that could net the Welsh superstar an astonishing 1 million pounds ($1.24 million) per week.

Time is of the essence, however, with the Chinese transfer window shutting on Wednesday.

Both financially and in terms of star power, the deal would eclipse the CSL’s biggest-name imports to date: Shanghai Shenhua’s capture of Argentine Carlos Tevez, who reportedly earned wages of around $800,000 per week, and the signings of Brazilians Oscar and Hulk, who arrived at Shanghai SIPG for fees of $73 million and $60 million respectively.

Speculation about the possible Bale fee varies wildly, with some reports suggesting Madrid might even allow the attacking midfielder to leave for free as it bids to rid itself of the Welshman’s $800,000 weekly wage bill.

Other reports suggest a price of between $50 and $60 million could be agreed, although Suning would have to pay double that because of the CSL’s 100 per cent foreign-player transfer tax. All proceeds from this tax go towards developing youth soccer in China.

Former SIPG technical director Mads Davidsen said of Bale’s possible arrival: “I was at SIPG when we bought Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg and then later Oscar from Chelsea.

“We were among the biggest transfers ever in Chinese history but now it seems Bale would be. Not only in branding and reputation-wise, but also his level. He would be a massive attraction for football in China.”

Whether or not a deal can be completed on time, Bale’s days at Real look numbered.

The 30-year-old has had six trophy-laden years – including four Champions League titles – since signing from Tottenham for a then world-record $106 million in September 2013. However, he has struggled to endear himself to Madrid’s notoriously demanding fans, while rumors that he has failed to integrate socially at the club have abounded in recent seasons.

Bale was never a favorite of Zinedine Zidane during the Frenchman’s first stint at the Bernabeu as coach. Things haven’t changed since Zidane’s return to replace the fired Santiago Solari in March, with Bale rarely named in Real’s starting XI.

Throughout Madrid’s preseason campaign, Zidane has admitted that Bale is nearing an exit, with the relationship between the two seemingly beyond repair.

“We hope he leaves soon. It would be best for everyone,” Zidane said after omitting Bale from his squad for a preseason match against Bayern Munich in Houston earlier this month. “We are working on his transfer to a new team.”

Bale has had some minutes on the pitch for Real since, however. He scored and missed a penalty in a shootout defeat to Arsenal and on Friday appeared off the bench during the 7-3 hammering to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey on Friday.

If Bale does depart for Suning, it will likely have a significant knock-on effect in the transfer market, with Madrid possibly using funds generated from Bale’s sale to launch a bid for Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.