Euro 2020: Gareth Bale’s ‘sole focus’ on Wales not club future, says forward

Gareth Bale
Forward Gareth Bale is Wales’ record scorer with 33 goals in 90 games

Gareth Bale insists he will not be affected by speculation about his future as he prepares to lead Wales at Euro 2020.

Bale, 31, spent this season on loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid and benefitted from playing more regularly.

With his club future under scrutiny, there has even been speculation that he could retire after the Euros.

Bale did not categorically deny that but said: “My sole focus is on the Euros now.”

The Wales captain added: “I don’t want to be thinking about anything that’s going to be happening next year.

“I’m trying not to look past this tournament, I don’t think anyone is, we want to give everything to this major championship.”

There has been continued speculation about Bale’s future, with the forward now entering the final year of his lucrative contract at Real Madrid.

The departure of manager Zinedine Zidane – who mostly preferred to leave Bale unused on the bench last season and led to his Spurs loan – adds another unknown quantity to any decision Bale makes on his future.

Bale said after Tottenham’s final game of the season earlier this month that he would reveal his plans for his club future once Euro 2020 had finished.

Having scored twice in Spurs’ 4-2 Premier League win at Leicester, Bale said: “I know what I’m doing but it’ll just cause chaos if I say anything now.”

That led to speculation he was considering retiring after this summer’s tournament but his agent Jonathan Barnett dismissed that as “rubbish”.

Bale was less definitive when he was asked about retirement on Monday, instead focusing on his fitness and form in the build-up to Wales’ opening Euro 2020 game against Switzerland in Baku on 12 June.

“I’m feeling good, I feel like my fitness is the highest it’s been in a while,” Bale said.

“It’s good that I’ve been able to get match minutes under my belt and score goals, get my confidence.

“I feel like I’m in a good place physically and mentally.

“The confidence is there and I feel like I’m playing well, just excited now to get to Baku and get the tournament underway.”

After their match against Switzerland, Wales also play Turkey in Baku before facing Italy in Rome.

Bale admits Wales will carry a dose of realism this summer as they seek to emulate their Euro 2016 semi-final run.

“We’d love to replicate it but we’re realistic,” said the skipper.

“We know it’s a different tournament playing different teams and we also have a very different team to what we did have.

“It’s going to be difficult going in against all these top nations, but we’re confident in our own ability what we can do on the pitch, and we’ll be doing everything to make it as much of a success as we can.”

There are eight survivors from the squad which lost to eventual winners Portugal in 2016’s semi-final stage: Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Chris Gunter, Danny Ward, Joe Allen, Jonny Williams and Wayne Hennessey.

That provides a vital experienced backbone, with 19 of the 26 players in Robert Page’s squad having 25 caps or fewer.

Seven of the squad are in single figures and uncapped midfielder Rubin Colwill has played just 191 minutes of senior football since making his Cardiff City debut in February.

Bale said: “They [the younger player] know if they want any advice, experience from us, or questions we need to answer we’re here.

“But come the tournament obviously there’ll be stages where we’ll give some advice and basically use our experience.

“When those times come I’m sure we’ll all be ready to do that.”

BBC News