Gareth Bale has cast doubt over his future after twice declining the opportunity to deny reports he could retire after the European Championship finals this summer.
Last week Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, labelled as “rubbish” a report in the Spanish daily ABC that his client could retire. The 31-year-old is under contract at Real Madrid until the end of next season on a deal worth about £600,000 a week. But the Wales captain, who has just finished a loan at Tottenham, refused to deny he could call it a day after Euro 2020.
“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.”
Asked to clear up whether he is considering retirement, Bale chuckled and replied: “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.”
In March Bale said helping Wales to secure a World Cup finals place represented the final piece in the jigsaw of a decorated career in which he has won four Champions League titles. Reminded of this he said: “Now is the time to solely focus on the Euros and I don’t want to be thinking about other things I have said in the past. 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.”
Bale finished an indifferent season with the best goals-per-minute ratio in the Premier League – a strike rate of 1.07 goals per game – and the forward said he was determined to take his recent form into the finals. Wales, who fly to Azerbaijan next Monday, take on the world champions France in a friendly on Wednesday before hosting Albania on Saturday.
“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.”
Luton’s Tom Lockyer was called up on Monday to replace the St Pauli defender James Lawrence, who sustained a muscle injury in training.