Gareth Bale’s move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning has been nixed by Real Madrid, a source close to the Wales forward told AFP on Sunday, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.
Bale, 30, who has been in the Spanish capital since 2013, was expected to join the Chinese Super League outfit on a three-year-deal worth £1 million (US$1.1 million) a week.
But the Real board, led by the president, Florentino Pérez, decided the fee was insufficient, The Guardian reported. Other reports suggest Real is demanding a transfer fee.
The 77-time international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans at the Bernabeu.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger came off the bench to play half an hour in Real’s record 7-3 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said the player’s family had blocked a potential move to Asia, the CNA report said.
Marca said those close to Bale had asked his representatives to look for clubs in Europe “before definitively saying yes to Jiangsu Suning’s offer.”
After leaving Bale out of a pre-season game against Bayern Munich last week, which Madrid lost, Zidane said he hoped the player would be sold.
“We hope he leaves soon,” Zidane said. “It would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team. I have nothing personal against him but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done.”
In response to Zidane’s comments, Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told AFP: “Zidane is a disgrace — he shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid.”
Other clubs could be interested in Bale for next season, but the Welshman reportedly doesn’t want to take a salary cut and no club will match the €17 million/year contract he has with Madrid while also paying a transfer fee.
The Chinese transfer window closes on Wednesday.
Bale scored three goals, plus a penalty in a shootout, in four Champions League finals for Real as they won the competition in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
However, injury problems have limited him to 79 La Liga starts in the past four seasons.
He played 42 matches for Real Madrid last season but was booed by the home supporters at times during the campaign.
Meanwhile, the popularity of Chinese sides within China now eclipses that of European clubs, according to a new study.
A report by Brand Finance found that Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC is the country’s favourite football club brand, as chosen by 25% of Chinese fans, ahead of both Real and Barcelona.
And almost 90% of Chinese fans are aware of the CSL but only 63% know about Germany’s Bundesliga and 58% Spain’s La Liga.
Sources, CNA, AFP, The Guardian, SB Nation, BBC