After helping guide Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years, Gareth Bale has joked that he will be pushing retirement “just a bit”.
Ahead of the 1-0 win over Ukraine in the World Cup play-off final, reports suggested Bale could call it a day should Wales fail to qualify for the major tournament in Qatar.
With the possibility of leading his national team in a first World Cup since 1958, retirement is not an option. But, having won five Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles at Real Madrid, where will he end up at club level next season?
What’s next for Bale-Cardiff? MLS?
Sky Sports’ Geraint Hughes:
There has been a lot of speculation that Bale is playing for his hometown club Cardiff City but that comes with challenges.
Forget the financial implications, what about the risk of Bale playing in the league? It’s a tough league, if not one of the toughest in the world.
Does Bale need that kind of risk when his ultimate goal is to take Wales out in November’s World Cup opener against the United States?
Another option to explore is to play outside of Europe. America and MLS are potentially another option. Some MLS clubs are geographically located where the climate is sunny and warm, not a bad place to play football and keep fit before the World Cup.
Other parts of any deal to consider include how many games Bale would play and how he would train. He knows his body and has a personal plan in place that meets his needs. This should be considered by any club he might join.
What about the duration of any agreement? How long does Bale want to commit?
Beyond the World Cup seems unlikely, but Bale has kept his cards close to his chest for several years. Let’s not forget that he is one of the most decorated players of all time, a supreme talent with his clear ambition to lead Wales to a World Cup.
In any club versus country debate regarding Bale, the answer is very clear.
Could Bale return to the Premier League?
Bale spent six years at Tottenham before his world record transfer to Real Madrid in 2013, scoring 42 Premier League goals in 146 appearances between 2007 and 2013.
An inconsistent loan spell at Spurs in the 2020/21 Premier League season still saw Bale score 11 goals in 20 appearances, proving the 32-year-old’s goalscoring abilities are still solid.
Sky Sports’ Geraint Hugues:
Bale and his representatives know exactly what they are doing, they are shrewd and well prepared for all eventualities. Once this June Nations League campaign is over, expect Bale to be gone for a while – he wants a holiday with his family!
Then all the options that its representatives will probably have already sketched out will begin to be explored further. This will include returning to the Premier League as a number of clubs wouldn’t turn down the services of a player of Bale’s ability and stature. The fit will have to work for Bale, however, for this type of deal to work.
Hartson: Bale would have plenty of offers
Former Wales international John Hartson said Sky Sports News: “I imagine he’ll have a lot of offers. He would like to stay lively and involved.
”There are rumors that he could play for his hometown club Cardiff City in the Championship. I imagine that may influence him because of his love for Wales – his home town.
”He would have a lot of options. He can still play at the highest level.
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When and where is the 2022 World Cup?
2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar monday november 21 at the Al Thumama stadium when SenegalI take the Netherlands in group A followed by hosts Qatar versus Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium.