A LOOK AT LA LIGA
The public game of poker between Real Madrid, Gareth Bale and Zinedine Zidane is now getting to the point where the stakes are higher than ever. The club wants to cash in on the Welshman, the manager wants to speculate the money, but the player doesn't want to budge.
This isn't an accurate account of what has happened in the Spanish capital this week but I'm pretty sure it isn't far off the true events.
The manager and president sit across an enormous desk in the high-rise office of Florentino Pérez. "Mr President," Zidane clears his throat. "You promised that if I returned to the club you would allow me to sign my own players. I would like to bring in the World Cup winner Paul Pogba. He's..."
The president interrupts his flow. "You have 42 players on the training pitch Zizou. You need to balance the books. Move that Welshman on and you have your money."
Two hours later Zidane beckons Gareth Bale into his coaching den. He is required to beckon as Bale speaks no Spanish and Zidane's English is limited.
Zidane types into Google translate and hands the phone to the man who single-handedly won the Champions League for him.
A bemused Bale reads the text and types back: "You want me to buy some Chinos." The furious former World Player of the Year grabs the office globe which he was using to track the club's complicated world tour and sticks a pin into China. The globe bursts but Bale needs no translation.
Later that afternoon the stressed star sits down for a cup of tea with his new wife. "Yaki da." This quashes the myth that he isn't bi-lingual. "Emma my love, I know we were going to discuss the wedding album, but we need to speak about my job. They want me to transfer to China."
Once he's picked up the broken Welsh pottery he's told that: "The Beckhams moved to LA, Milan and then Paris. All countries where they spoke English!" He was ordered to "... sort it for himself."
Bale takes the initiative, scours the internet and furtively dials a telephone number. "Hello, this is Gareth Bale, do you speak English?"
"Hello Mr Bale. Yes sir, here at the club we speak many languages with those who honour us by playing here."
A beaming Bale responds "Brilliant. I hear Shanqin is the best club in the whole of China. I'd like to come and play soon."
"Mr Bale we'd be delighted to have you treading our lush turf," responds the proud manager of the club that is regarded as the best in China.
"Tidy!" says Bale. "Just one more thing, what's the nearest professional football club to Shanqin Bay Golf Club?"
The new Mrs Bale overhears the conversations and screams. "We're not going to Beijing for all of the tees in China."
Thirteen hundred miles away Paul Pogba unpacks his one hundred pairs of Adidas trainers and slopes off to the Carrington training ground through the Manchester rain.
The story continues.