Belgium v Wales – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group E – King Power at Den Dreef Stadium
Gareth Bale did little to quell speculation he could retire after Euro 2020 this summer after twice refusing the chance to deny reports at a pre-tournament press conference.
After suggestions first surfaced that the Real Madrid winger may call time on his career, Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, brandished the reports “rubbish”. However, the Wales international, who spent last season on loan at Tottenham and has one year remaining on his £600,000-a-week Real Madrid contract, reiterated that he did not want to discuss his future as he doesn’t “want to say anything that’s going to cause more chaos”.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of things written about whether I’m doing this and doing that,” Bale said. “For me, the main thing is I don’t want to say anything that’s going to cause more chaos or more drama or cause a distraction. I just want to focus on the Euros. I don’t want to say anything that is going to cause any problems on what I am doing or what I am not doing. When the Euros finishes for us then I will sit down and decide what I want to do.”
When Bale, who will turn 32 shortly after Euro 2020, was pushed further about the possibility of retirement, he said: “Yeah, well. It’s one of those. As I said, I’ll sit down after the Euros and decide what I want to do. I want to give everything into this Euros and put in everything I can like we do in every single game. If I say something then it’s just going to cause even more chaos so there’s no point.”
Bale previously stated that he hoped to play for Wales at a World Cup, with the national team currently third in their Qatar 2022 qualifying group, however, he insisted that his only current focus is the Euros. “I don’t want to be thinking about other things I have said in the past,” he said. “Now is the time I want to be focusing on the Euros. All the team are just focusing on preparing correctly and being ready for the first game against Switzerland.”
Wales will prepare for the Euros with friendlies against world champions France and Albania in Azerbaijan and Bale hopes to take his resurgent form under Tottenham stand-in coach Ryan Mason into the championships.
“It was great to finish off the season, the last few months, in goalscoring form,” Bale said. “All it took was for me to be playing games. I knew that; I think a lot of people knew that. It was just game time. Once I was given the opportunity to keep playing and get my actual Premier League fitness up it felt natural that my form would be back and I’d start scoring. No surprise to me.”
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