Gareth Bale will “definitely” continue to play club football next season if Wales qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, says national team boss Rob Page. Page also vehemently defended Bale against recent media criticism in Spain, saying he was angered by Marca’s depiction of the Real Madrid winger as a “parasite” last month.
Bale’s future has been called into question in recent weeks, with the 32-year-old making just four starts for Carlo Ancelotti’s team in La Liga this season and speculation abounding that the wideman could call time on his club career. However, Wales’ caretaker manager Page is certain the four-time Champions League winner would continue playing to fulfil his dream of featuring at a World Cup, should Wales qualify, although he was none the wiser as to where he would go when his Madrid contract expires in June.
“If we get to the World Cup in November, then he will definitely be playing football,” Page told the Athletic. “The World Cup is his dream, the one thing missing from his CV. “Where he’ll play, I’m not sure, whether he comes home, stays in Spain, fancies another challenge, I really don’t know.”
Bale netted twice in Wales’ crucial 2-1 victory against Austria last month, including a stunning free-kick opener, to send the Dragons to June’s play-off final in Cardiff. If Wales beat either Scotland or Ukraine to secure a place in Qatar, they will make their first World Cup appearance since 1958, and would feature in the same group as rivals England.
Page was also asked about the Spanish media’s coverage of Bale’s Real Madrid career, saying he was left fuming by Marca depicting Bale as a “parasite” last month. “I’m absolutely appalled by it,” he added. “I know Gareth well now and a lot of people don’t see what he does off the pitch, the donations he made to the NHS recently, to a hospital in Cardiff, a considerable amount of money.”
“He doesn’t get credit for that because he doesn’t shout about it and people don’t hear about it. He keeps it to himself. “That parasite comment made my blood boil. I don’t like that.”
“That’s not the Gareth Bale who is the captain of our country, who represents us, and he never will be that.” Bale is the top goalscorer in the history of the Welsh national team, netting 38 times in his 102 senior caps to date. Only Chris Gunter, meanwhile, has made more appearances for Wales, winning five caps more than the Madrid winger.