Back in 2013, upon taking over at Manchester United, Ed Woodward compiled a list of four fantasy transfer targets. Neymar was on it, as well as Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller. But so too were Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale – and the Juventus and Real Madrid stars could be on the market when the transfer window reopens at the end of the season.
Woodward has always liked going after big names, eager for United to be competing for some of the planet’s finest players.
That was why he went after Juan Mata in January 2014, signing the Spain international just months after he’d been crowed Chelsea’s player of the year.
After Mata came Angel Di Maria, who Woodward signed for a British transfer record of £59million.
Radamel Falcao came in on loan and in the time since United have also signed the likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
Back in 2013, though, Woodward compiled a list of ‘fantasy’ transfer targets. Players he would love to bring to the club throughout his reign.
Muller was on it, with the Bayern Munich star regarded as one of Europe’s best players at the time.
And so too was Neymar, who was shining at La Liga giants Barcelona.
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But also on the list were Ronaldo and Bale, who were both Real Madrid players around the time it was put together.
And, this summer, they could be available.
Bale is expected to leave Real Madrid, seven years after moving to the Bernabeu in a huge £86million deal.
Despite angering fans with his love for golf, the Wales international has been a big success during his time in Spain.
He was on target as Real ended their agonising wait for the Champions League trophy with a 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in 2014.
And he scored a stunning overhead kick as Los Blancos won the trophy again four years later, beating Liverpool 3-1 in the final.
Bale has helped Real win four Champions League titles throughout his time at the Bernabeu but, this summer, a parting of the ways looks likely.
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Zinedine Zidane is ready to cut him loose and United, despite distancing themselves from talk of Bale signing in recent times, could be tempted.
He’s a player who would generate big income for Woodward given his status as a Galactico.
And he’s also somebody who, if you can get him back to his best, sits up their with the very best players on the planet.
Real will look to get rid of Bale to raise funds as they eye Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.
And Woodward now has a genuine shot at bringing the player, who has been wanted by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho in the past, to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo could also be available.
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Juventus players have agreed to go four months without being paid in order to help the club amid the coronavirus crisis.
But if things continue to worsen, they may have no choice but to cut Ronaldo loose after just two years in Turin.
United fans would love to see Ronaldo make a sensational return to the club he enjoyed such success with earlier in his career.
And that he played alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his spell at United could make a return a reality.
Woodward had Ronaldo on his list of four fantasy targets and he remains impressive on the pitch – and a financial goldmine off it.
United signing either player still appears difficult, especially given their interest in Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish.
But Woodward may get the chance to sign them nonetheless. And what he does, should that happen, remains to be seen.
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