Gareth Bale has cast doubt on his future after twice refusing the opportunity to dismiss reports that he might retire after the European Championship finals this summer.
Last week, Bale's representative, Jonathan Barnett, labeled a report in the Spanish daily ABC that his client could retire as "garbage". The 31-year-old player is about £600,000 a week until the end of next season at Real Madrid. But the Wales captain, who had just finished a loan at Tottenham, denied he could call a day after Euro 2020.
“Obviously there's a lot of writing about whether or not I'm doing this and it's doing it,” Bale said. “The point for me is that I don't want to say anything that will cause more chaos or more drama or distraction. I just want to focus on the Euro. I don't want to say anything that will cause any problems about what I did or didn't do. When the euro is over for us, I will sit down and decide what I want to do. ”
Asked if he would retire, Bale chuckled and replied: “Yeah, well. One of these. As I said, after the Euro, I will sit down and decide what I want to do. I want to give everything for this Euro and do everything we love in every game. If I say something then it will cause more chaos so it makes no sense. ”
In March, Bale said helping Wales to the World Cup finals represented the final piece of the puzzle. An award-winning career in which he won four Champions League titles. He recalled: “Now is the time to focus only on the Euro and I don't want to think about other things I've said in the past. Now when I want to focus on the Euro. The whole team is just focusing on preparing correctly and being ready for the first match against Switzerland. ”
Bale finished an unremarkable season with the best goals-per-minute rate in the Premier League - a strike rate of 1.07 goals per game - and the forward said he was determined to take his latest form to the finals. Flying to Azerbaijan next Monday, Wales is welcoming world champion France in a friendly match on Wednesday, before hosting Albania on Saturday.
“It was great finishing off-season, in goal-scoring form for the past few months,” Bale said. “All I had to do was play the game. I knew this; I think a lot of people knew that. It was just game time. Given the opportunity to keep playing and improve my true Premier League form, it felt natural to get back in shape and start scoring. It didn't surprise me. ”
Luton's Tom Lockyer was called in on Monday to replace St Pauli defender James Lawrence, who suffered a muscle injury during practice.