Gareth Bale, I’m told, will decide upon his future in the coming days. It could even be the coming hours.
As things stand, and whisper this very quietly, the signs appear to be tantalizingly promising for Cardiff City to pull off the most sensational transfer in Welsh football history.
It seems highly unlikely on the surface, yet the feeling is the Bluebirds have the edge over a glut of Premier League clubs and leading teams from abroad chasing Bale’s signature.
READ MORE: How Bale would drastically alter Cardiff’s promotion prospects
Bale and Cardiff City are saying absolutely nothing. They are keeping cards tightly clutched to chest while negotiations take place and nothing can be considered signed, sealed and delivered until pen is put to paper on any contract.
Yet significantly no-one is ruling it out. Not Bale, who was quick enough to dismiss Getafe links, not his representatives, not Cardiff.
The only person who appeared to do so in the early stages was Bluebirds boss Steve Morison, who called it ‘an absolute pipe dream’ and refused to ‘get caught up in something that could be absolute nonsense’ when the speculation first surfaced.
To be fair to Morison, as manager he needed to be pragmatic, was keeping feet firmly on the ground and perhaps couldn’t envisage how quickly things might develop. He has since spoken far more positively about the impossible dream which could, just could, suddenly become possible.
Bale may still decide against Cardiff. An 11th-hour move from Manchester City or Manchester United would certainly alter the dynamic.
Could he still do a decent job for a club of that magnitude? Yes, I could.
Former Crystal Palace chairman-turned-pundit Simon Jordan unfairly labeled Wales’ captain ‘a busted flush.’ He may not be the Bale of old, with searing pace taking him past three defenders, but those two matchwinning moments of World Cup magic against Austria, and indeed Ukraine, didn’t resemble a footballer who looks busted to me.
Then again, perhaps Simon Jordan hasn’t seen Bale’s talismanic qualities for Wales, past and present, as frequently as we have on this side of the Bridge.
Remember too that the previous season, Bale’s last in the Premier League, he scored 16 goals in 34 Tottenham appearances. That’s pretty impressive.
Why would any major club, whether top end of Premier, or a Tottenham, Newcastle or Aston Villa, not want a player possessing such undoubted qualities of being able to turn a game on its head?
The last three are among those who apparently do. There are others too. From the top flight, Scotland, abroad.
How on earth can Cardiff even compete against that backdrop and with the financial power those bigger clubs possess?
The answer is actually simple. As Tom Jones famously sang, it would be down to the green, green grass of home.
This goes beyond money, which is such a welcome change in modern-day football and a measure of Gareth Bale the man and footballer the Welsh public so adore.
Bale has achieved so much in his career already, but two remaining footballing ambitions that could drive him on are about love, not finance.
The first is playing for Wales in the World Cup; we know about that one. Wales players don’t get a vast salary for pulling on the red shirt. It’s about the badge.
The second would be helping his home-town Bluebirds, a club with such enormous potential and a vast Welsh fan base to tap into should they get it right, into the Premier League.
One would benefit the other. Bale wishes to manage his game time properly ahead of the World Cup to ensure prime fitness when Wales meet the USA, Iran and England out in Qatar. He could pick and choose his games to a degree for the Bluebirds, whereas on a £200,000 a week Premier League salary he would be expected to play in pretty much every match.
Cardiff supporters, who form a sizeable contingent of those watching Wales, would be far more understanding and tolerant of the situation than fans of other clubs, recognizing the bigger World Cup picture.
As a bonus, Cardiff share a training ground with the Football Association of Wales and that would enable Bale to also work closely with the Welsh medics and physios building towards Qatar.
These are undoubted pulls, as is the simple personal one of being able to do normal day-to-day things – the school run, to be at home around those close to him who are always supportive.
That last bit, of course, could also be extended to Cardiff fans and the Welsh media. Bale may have been derived at times with Real Madrid, but he would get nothing less than 100 per cent love here. That happiness is bound to show him in his football., We already see it time and time again when he pulls on the red of Wales.
Trying to fire his home-town club to the Premier League, and this time helping to stabilize them there, could also be a project to really excite Bale in the closing stages of his career.
Craig Bellamy, then a Liverpool player and also wanted by a glut of Premier League clubs, chose to come home for these very personal reasons. He helped take Cardiff up, admittedly couldn’t do the second bit of the equation, but very much established himself in Bluebirds folklore.
Bale would be on another level again. Indeed, they were he to join Cardiff and drive them to promotion, the clamor for a Bale statue to be built in the Welsh capital’s shopping mall next to that of Gareth Edwards would become an unstoppable force, given what he has already achieved with Wales.
On the one hand Bale to Cardiff appears to be little more than a romantic dream. But the truth is it’s a whole lot more than that.
Cardiff City may not have the pull of a Man Utd, Spurs or Newcastle. But this would be a chance for Bale to hone his World Cup dream, drive a Bluebirds project which would include Wales’ future as he helps galvanize Rubin Colwill, Isaak Davies plus other Bluebirds Academy young guns, and be at a football club where he would be idolized more than any other fan base.
Even below par performances would be afforded plenty of latitude just because he’s Gareth Bale. It would be a galaxy away from the rubbish he had to put up with in his final months at Real Madrid.
There. What’s not to like about any of that, Gareth.
In the end, Bale may choose to go elsewhere, but the pull of Cardiff City FC is clearly far stronger than many would automatically assume.
Wales. Cardiff. Golf. That has quite a nice ring to it, does it not?