sport news Rooney's return to Everton and a Tevez swansong at Boca... the NINE players who ... trends now

sport news Rooney's return to Everton and a Tevez swansong at Boca... the NINE players who ... trends now
sport news Rooney's return to Everton and a Tevez swansong at Boca... the NINE players who ... trends now

sport news Rooney's return to Everton and a Tevez swansong at Boca... the NINE players who ... trends now

There really is no place like home. 

It would be a transfer shock for the ages, but after years of unrest and upset at Real Madrid, a homecoming could present Cardiff-born Gareth Bale with the perfect platform to relaunch his career.

Relentlessly benched, vilified by fans and branded a 'parasite' by certain Spanish media outlets in Madrid, Bale has enjoyed the opposite experience with his country, idolised as a hero for earning Wales qualification to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Gareth Bale could be on his way to hometown club Cardiff next season as talks are in progress

Gareth Bale could be on his way to hometown club Cardiff next season as talks are in progress

The Welshman joined the European champions in 2013 for a then world record fee of £86million and has since scored over 100 goals and won the Champions League five times.

Cardiff City, a lower mid-table Championship side, are ambitiously holding talks with the 32-year-old in the hope that he joins on a free transfer and agrees to say goodbye to some of his £554,000-a-week wages.

The Welsh side are by no means the only club hotly pursuing Bale's signature, with Spurs and Newcastle reportedly keen on luring the free agent as well.

The Welsh star fired his team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this month - their first in 64 years

The Welsh star fired his team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this month - their first in 64 years

Whilst a move to Cardiff looks somewhat shocking on the surface, it would hand the forward regular playing time in the build up to Qatar and allow him to continue developing his legacy as a legend of the Welsh game.

Were Bale to start a fresh challenge in Cardiff, he would join an illustrious list of veterans who enjoyed a homecoming during their thirties or forties.

Sportsmail have compiled a list of nine players to join their hometown clubs late in their careers.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs BK

Born in Helsingborg, Sweden, Henrik Larsson joined local club side Hogaborgs BK at the age of six before making his senior debut for the club in 1989.

He made the switch to fellow local side Helsingborgs IF four years later, going on to score a half century of goals in just 56 appearances for the club.

Larsson's fruitful career at Celtic, which contributed 174 goals in 221 appearances, was preceded by a four season spell at Feyenoord between 1993-1997, and then followed by a two year stint at Barcelona.

Ex-Celtic forward Henrik Larsson played one last game for boyhood side Hogaborgs BK in 2013

Ex-Celtic forward Henrik Larsson played one last game for boyhood side Hogaborgs BK in 2013

The Swede returned home to Helsingborgs IF in 2006 before undergoing a seven-match loan spell at Manchester United in 2007.

Larsson retired at the Swedish club in 2009 due to injury, unable to fulfil a vow he once made to return to boyhood side Hogaborgs BK at the end of his career.

However - for one match and one match only at the age of 43 - the striker agreed to sit on Hogaborgs BK's bench against Tenhults in 2013 to help the club deal with an injury crisis.

He was substituted on and subsequently featured alongside his then 15-year-old son Jordan, who now plays for AIK Fotboll.

Andriy Shevchenko - Dynamo Kyiv

Before his illustrious career at AC Milan and Chelsea, Andriy Shevchenko made over 100 appearances for hometown club Dynamo Kyiv, having graduated from their academy in 1993.

The Ukrainian went on to enjoy a sensational seven-year spell at AC Milan between 1999 and 2006, scoring over 150 goals, winning Serie A and the Champions League, and claiming the Ballon d'Or in 2004. 

Shevchenko's switch to Stamford Bridge in 2006 was burdened with a hefty £29.4m fee, and the striker struggled to manage the same scintillating goal tally, only managing 22 goals in 77 appearances for Chelsea.

Following a brief season-long loan spell back to Milan in 2008-09, Shevchenko returned home to Ukraine to sign a two-year deal with Dynamo Kyiv.

Andriy Shevchenko played for home side Dynamo Kyiv after struggling to impress at Chelsea

Andriy Shevchenko played for home side Dynamo Kyiv after struggling to impress at Chelsea

Diego Milito - Racing Club

Based in Avellaneda, Racing Club nicknamed themselves the 'Academy of Football' due to their stacked trophy cabinet and ability to produce young talent.

Champions League winner Diego Milito - who was originally born and raised in Bernal on the Avellaneda border - was a graduate of the Racing Club academy and played there for four years between 1999 and 2003.

Two brief spells at Genoa sandwiched a three season stint at Spanish side Real Zaragoza, but Milito rose to fame during his time at Inter Milan, which began in 2009.

Former Inter forward Diego Milito played for Racing Club at the start and end of his career

Former Inter forward Diego Milito played for Racing Club at the start and end of his career

The striker notched 75 goals and 29 assists during his spell at the San Siro, winning Player of the Season in 2009-10 as Inter clinched the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble under Jose Mourinho.

Upon his return to Racing in 2014, Milito scored in a 3-1 victory against Defensa y Justicia on the opening weekend of the Argentine championship. 

Following two more years at the club, the striker scored a spot-kick against Temperley during his final match aged 36, as Racing later organised a tribute match in his honour in 2016.

Robin van Persie - Feyenoord

The former Arsenal and Manchester United star made his debut for hometown club Feyenoord aged 17, making a total of 15 starts during the 2001-02 season.

At the end of his debut season, Rotterdam-born Van Persie started in Feyenoord's UEFA Cup final triumph against Borussia Dortmund.

Following his move to Arsenal in 2004, the striker scored 132 goals for the Gunners in 278 appearances, won the FA Cup in 2005 and claimed the Premier League Golden Boot in 2012 with 30 goals.

Robin van Persie is now an assistant coach at boyhood club Feyenoord where he retired

Robin van Persie is now an assistant coach at boyhood club Feyenoord where he retired

His controversial move to Old Trafford did not slow down his goal tally, as Van Persie clinched a second Golden Boot in consecutive seasons during the 2012-13 campaign, winning Manchester United the title.

After a three year stint at Fenerbahce in Turkey, the all-time Holland scorer returned to Feyenoord in 2018 and has since retired to become an assistant coach at the Rotterdam club. 

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Aged five, Dirk Kuyt

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