Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was on July 26, 2019 on the verge of signing a "£1 million a week" deal with Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning, reports claimed. The 30-year-old Welshman has already been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane that he does not form part of his future plans at the Spanish giants. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

  • Source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said Welsh player’s family blocked move
  • The 77-time capped Welsh international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans

MADRID: Gareth Bale’s move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning collapsed on Sunday after Real Madrid canceled the proposed deal due to wrangling over the fee, a source told AFP on Sunday.
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 ($1.1 million) a week.
The source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said the Welsh player’s family had blocked a potential move to Asia.
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.”
The Chinese transfer window closes on Wednesday.
The 77-time capped Welsh 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 in a friendly match in New Jersey on their pre-season tour of the United States on Friday.
Real boss Zidane said last weekend he thought it would be “best for everyone” if Bale’s departure could be arranged quickly — comments Bale’s agent branded “disrespectful” of a player who helped the side to a Spanish league title and four Champions Leagues since arriving from Tottenham six years ago.
However, injuries have limited Bale to fewer than 80 starts in La Liga in the last four seasons while he has been the subject of criticism in the Spanish media for his struggles with the language and even the time he had spent on the golf courses.
Zidane insisted he meant no disrespect before Bale came on as a substitute in a midweek 3-2 friendly win over Arsenal, also in the United States.
“He had a good game and I’m happy for him,” Zidane said at the time.
“I do not know what’s going to happen, for now he’s with us. It did not change anything,” he added.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has already insisted that any deal which sees the Welshman leave the Bernabeu would have to be a permanent one and not one that sees him shipped out on loan.
“There will be no makeshift deals to get him out of the club,” said Barnett.
“Gareth is one of the best players on the planet. I can guarantee you he will not be going on loan to any club.”
Real suffered a nightmare campaign last season, finishing third in the table and 19 points behind champions and bitter rivals Barcelona.
They were also knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax in the last 16 stage.
The Bale transfer saga is just the latest grim development for Real and Zidane.
Serbian starlet Luka Jovic hobbled off in the first half of the defeat to Atletico.
Zidane can only hope the news on his injury will be better than that of Marco Asensio, who could miss most if not all of the La Liga season after rupturing a knee ligament against Arsenal on Tuesday.


Saudi pro golfer takes cue from Tiger to hold nerve for big tournament

Updated 28 January 2020

Saudi pro golfer takes cue from Tiger to hold nerve for big tournament

  • Othman Almulla says ‘I have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, and I’m ready for that’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s first and only professional golfer has been taking his cue from one of the game’s greatest players, Tiger Woods, when it comes to controlling tournament nerves.

Othman Almulla believes that getting his debut year under his belt has enabled him to cope with the kind of pressure he will face when he plays alongside his idols at this weekend’s Saudi International.

The 33-year-old, who will tee it up at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) on Thursday in the tournament that kick-started his pro career 12 months ago, said: “Tiger Woods is the best golfer on the planet and he says the day he doesn’t feel nervous on the first tee is the day he’ll stop playing golf.

“I take respite in that – knowing that if he’s the best player in the world and he feels nervous, then it’s okay for me to maybe feel a bit of that too!”

Almulla’s breakout year as a member of the MENA Tour has taken him across the fairways of the Middle East and as far afield as the UK, allowing him to develop his game as he chases an ambition of earning a place alongside the household names of golf on the coveted European Tour — while also dreaming of one day competing at the Olympic Games.

He will play alongside the greatest golfers in the world at the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers — including world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, US powerhouse and defending tournament champion Dustin Johnson, and a host of Ryder Cup stalwarts and major-winning golfers.

Such opposition for any golfer would represent a fairly intimidating homecoming, but Almulla is adamant that the lessons he has learned in his first year on tour will help him keep cool, calm, and in the zone, allowing him to perform to the level he knows he is capable.

He said: “It would be very, very easy to be put in an uncomfortable position playing alongside and against the best golfers in the world. But you have to be comfortable in that uncomfortable position, and that’s what I’ve learned in this last year.

“Yes, they are the best golfers in the world, but we’re all trying to make it; I’m trying to achieve my goals and so are they. I take it as a learning experience, and that’s the most important thing.

Overall, I think it’s all about reminding myself how great an opportunity this is, and that there’s people supporting me regardless of how I play this week. The big thing is to learn from the experience.

Othman Almulla

“These players are at a much higher level than I am, but that’s the level I want to get to. All I can do is go out there, do my best, and hope that the work I’ve put in this year will put me in a position to compete.

“Overall, I think it’s all about reminding myself how great an opportunity this is, and that there’s people supporting me regardless of how I play this week. The big thing is to learn from the experience,” Almulla added.

His first year as a professional has allowed him to fly the Saudi flag at tournaments in such countries as Morocco, Oman, the UAE, the UK, Bahrain and Jordan.

His on-course highlight was his final MENA Tour event of last season at Ras Al-Khaimah, in the UAE, where he birdied the last three holes to make the cut, then shot 65 on the final round to go from last place on the cut to 23rd — an experience he described as “unbelievable.”

“My game is feeling really good. It’s such an honor for me to represent Saudi internationally. Now it’s time for me to give back and hopefully start performing at a higher level.

“I’m 100 percent ready to push on to reach that. I’m putting things in place day-by-day, month-by-month, tournament-by-tournament that are going to let me show signs of what I can do in the game of golf and what I can really achieve,” said Almulla.

“That continues at the Saudi International, where I want to put in a couple of competitive rounds. If I do that and play how I know I can play, then hopefully I’ll make the weekend. That’s the goal.

“My aim is then to hopefully show a bit of form this year. I want to have a high finish on the MENA Tour Order of Merit, which will then give me opportunities of playing on some of the bigger tours.

“Within the next two years I would like to get either an Asian Tour card or a European Tour card, that’s the main-main goal, and, for the decade, what I really want to do is play in the Olympics. That’s a massive dream of mine,” he added.