However, former Manchester United academy manager Brian McClair has revealed that United could have signed the now 28-year-old while he was playing in Southampton's youth team - but that there were a number of reasons why they didn't.
McClair said that scouts at the club were fond of Bale, a product of the Southampton academy, but that he was unconvincing in his originally favoured position at left-back, which led to the Manchester club moving on to look at different options.
"We said we liked him," McClair told Manchester Evening News.
“But when you [the player] get to a certain age we have to seek the opinion of the first team recruitment department. If you’re going to buy him and pay whatever you are going to pay for him, then it’s got to be ‘What’s the plan for him? You [the first-team] have got to fancy him," he continued.
“I don’t think he was convincing for left-back."
It was Tottenham that took a chance on the young Welshman, and the London side now boast the talents of Dele Alli and Harry Kane in their squad, both of which United also failed to sign.
Speaking of England international Alli, McClair claimed: “The reports were that they [the scouts] just didn’t fancy him. You are always going to get that. That is always going to be the case. They didn’t fancy him."
“The biggest thing was trust, loyalty and respect with your staff – and they would have been the same ones who said: ‘You’ve got to get Giuseppe Rossi, you’ve got to get Paul Pogba.’ They are not infallible," continued the former United academy manager.
Whereas, when it came to Kane, now one of the best players in the world and someone who has been rumoured to be of interest to United, McClair said that signing the Spurs striker was never an option.
“We knew about him, but you weren’t allowed to do anything," said McClair.
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