Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale would be a “perfect fit” for Liverpool, says the club’s former midfielder Paul Ince.
Bale, 30, is “very close to leaving” Real according to manager Zinedine Zidane, who has been called “a disgrace” by the Wales forward’s agent.
Ince says Bale should “re-invent himself” and play regular football rather than pursue high wages with a move to the Chinese Super League.
“My opinion is if Liverpool can afford him, he should go there,” said Ince.
In a debate over Bale’s future on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, Ince and former Liverpool midfielder Don Hutchison said Zidane will win a power struggle at Madrid and force the former Tottenham player into a move.
“Liverpool’s front three haven’t had much rest before the season – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have played all over the summer,” added 51-year-old Ince, who played 81 times for Liverpool between 1997 and 1999.
“Bale can play right, left or central. If I was looking at a team if they could afford him, it would be Liverpool. He needs to re-invent himself as a player and play football week in, week out.
“He would have to take a massive wage drop. It can’t be about money for Bale. He has to go to a team who can win things. Liverpool are European champions and they want to make a massive challenge in the league again.
“Who else could afford him? Man City maybe, Man United and I don’t think Tottenham would be the right club. I would like to see him at Liverpool. He still has four or five years left. I think he’d be a perfect fit.”
‘Only one winner in power struggle’
“It’s a poker hand where Zidane is trying to move him out,” said Hutchison, 48. “Zidane wants money to bring in other players. It’s a power struggle but there will only be one winner – Zidane. So Bale has to find somewhere he wants to play.
“For Gareth, he has to go to somewhere where he is at the elite level and China is not in my opinion.
“We have all been there. I remember being at West Ham in my second spell. I had two years on my contract and West Ham got relegated. They had to get rid of big earners and it was clear at boardroom level they wanted me off the books.
“I was getting divorced at the time and had two years on the deal. They said they’d give me 50% of my wages to go on a free and play football. I said I was staying and they literally gave it a week and said we will give you 70%. I said it wasn’t money and said I literally can’t afford to move as I was getting divorced.”
‘Personal pride can come into play’
Bale has scored 102 goals in 231 games for Real during six seasons in which he has won the Champions League four times, La Liga and the Copa Del Rey.
Despite that success, Zidane has said it will be “best for everyone” if he leaves, a move Ince believes is “quite disrespectful”.
“There are ways of doing it the right way and showing him respect,” said Ince. “What Bale has done is phenomenal.
“I was happy in Manchester and didn’t want to go. I hadn’t thought of leaving. Sir Alex said they needed the money for the training ground and they had Nicky Butt coming through. I just felt when a club doesn’t want you they don’t want you. So I went of my own accord.
“When I went to Liverpool, Gerard Houllier forced me out and it was more a personal pride that if someone doesn’t want you at the club I thought I’m not here to force my way back, I’ll go and find someone who wants me.”