Gareth Bale boost for Cardiff as Wales star weighs up options ahead of World Cup

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Gareth Bale has boosted Cardiff’s hopes of signing him by suggesting the standard of football he plays before the World Cup does not make “too much of a difference”.

Bale is a free agent following the end of his nine-year stay at Real Madrid, and has said that he will resolve his future following his summer break.

The 32-year-old has been linked with Premier League outfit Newcastle and MLS teams in the United States ahead of Wales playing at the World Cup in Qatar this November.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is a free agent after leaving Real Madrid (Nick Potts/PA)

But Cardiff has also emerged as a potential destination, despite the Bluebirds playing in the Sky Bet Championship.

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett revealed in a recent interview that “what Gareth does next is not about money”, while Wales manager Robert Page said the idea of his captain joining Cardiff “ticks all the boxes” and “makes a lot of sense”.

“It’s something I guess I need to sit down and go through,” Bale said on his future ahead of Wales’ Nations League tie in Holland on Tuesday.

“Not just with my family, but with the manager here (Page), with the physios here that we use, to see what would give me the best chance of being fit come November and December.

Wales v Ukraine
Gareth Bale has helped Wales qualify for this year’s World Cup (David Davies/PA)

“I don’t really know if the standard makes too much of a difference. A football game is a football game.

“I feel like I’ll never really lose my quality on the ball. I guess it’s a conversation to be had.

“I need time to think what’s the best move for me, my family, my kids, and hopefully we’ll sort that over the summer. I have options.”

Bale made just four starts for Real in his final injury-hit campaign in Madrid.

He has started two of Wales’ four games this month, the World Cup play-off victory over Ukraine and Saturday’s 1-1 Nations League draw against Belgium.

But he did not complete 90 minutes in either match, and he knows the importance of game-time and being fully fit before the World Cup.

Bale said: “Ideally I would have had more games coming in (to camp) so I would have been even fitter and not had to recover as much as I am at the moment.

“I’ve been available for quite a lot of the games in Spain, sometimes you just don’t get picked so people assume that you’re injured.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale only started four games for Real Madrid this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It (next step) is going to be massively important. I need to make sure I’m playing games and I’m as fit as possible.

“Sometimes I’m able to get away with it, but ideally I want to go into a World Cup playing games and being as fit for as long as I can on the pitch.”

Wales produced an impressive performance against Belgium, ranked second in the world, to claim their first top-tier Nations League point on Saturday.

But injuries have hit them hard ahead of their trip to Rotterdam’s Feyenoord Stadium.

Danny Ward, Joe Allen, Joe Morrell and Neco Williams have joined Kieffer Moore on the slidelines. Rhys Norrington-Davies is suspended.

“It’s been a long camp and the only goal was to qualify for the World Cup,” said Bale, with Wales seeking to avenge last Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Holland.

“We did that, which was history made. In terms of the Nations League it’s been difficult to prepare for.

“The first game was pretty much get through it and after that it was mainly trying to recover.

“There was a lot of mental and physical stress but I guess, with Belgium, it was good to get a point against such a good team.

“We have a lot of good young players coming through and it’s our responsibility to guide them, to keep that character and togetherness up.”

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