Former Southampton manager George Burley has revealed how close Gareth Bale came to joining Manchester United earlier in his career. Wales international Bale burst onto the scene playing on the South Coast and was named Football League Young Player of the Year in his first season. After an incredible debut year there was plenty of interest in the then 17-year-old ahead of the summer window, and Burley says United were one of the clubs interested in a deal for the teenager. Bale would eventually go on to join Tottenham in the summer of 2007, but not before Burley met with Sir Alex Ferguson to discuss the possibility of a move to Old Trafford. Burley says United failed to meet the club’s valuation for the Welsh winger with Ferguson and David Gill worried about his defensive capabilities.
George Burley said: “He was like a winger playing at full-back. Manchester United were interested in him. I remember going to a hotel and speaking to Sir Alex and his chief executive [David Gill]. We’d already sold Theo Walcott for £12million (to Arsenal) and they offered three of four million so we said ‘no way’. I think they were a little bit worried about his defensive side of the game, which we were working at, but he could handle that.”
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