Gareth Bale has hinted that he could sensationally move to Cardiff City this summer, with the Wales captain yet to decide his next club.
Bale is now a free agent after nine trophy-laden but tumultuous years at Real Madrid and the 32-year-old is looking to sign a short-term deal with a new team in order to better prepare himself for the World Cup at the end of 2022.
While former club Tottenham, Newcastle and various MLS sides have been linked with the forward, Championship outfit Cardiff have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Bale, with the player reportedly interested in the idea of playing for his hometown club.
Ahead of Wales’ Nations League match with the Netherlands on Tuesday, Bale was asked directly about the possibility of joining the Bluebirds, but he remained coy about his future plans.
‘I can’t really say,’ he told reporters.
‘I haven’t really thought too much about that at the moment. It’s something I need to sit down and go through, not just with my family but with the manager here, the physios here that we use, to see what would give me the best chance of being fit come November and December.
‘It’s going to be massively important. I need to make sure I’m playing games and I’m as fit as possible.
‘For example, coming into this camp now I wasn’t fit at all, I didn’t have much game time at all. Sometimes I’m able to get away with it, but ideally, I want to be going into a World Cup playing games and being as fit as possible and being able to be as effective as I can for as long as I can.’
Bale actually started his career in England’s second tier with Southampton in 2006, but even so it would be truly remarkable to see a player of his calibre in the Championship.
But the Welshman admitted that he was not put off by the idea of playing outside of a top-flight as long as he was afforded sufficient game time, and even took aim at some of his critics who have previously dismissed the forward as too lazy and injury prone.
‘I know possible destinations,’ Bale added.
‘I don’t really know if the standard makes too much of a difference, to be honest. Football games are football games. I feel like I’ll never really lose my quality on the ball, so I guess it’s a conversation to be had.
‘I’ve been available for quite a lot of the games in Spain. Sometimes you just don’t get picked so people assume that you’re injured; it’s just that perception.
‘People think I play a lot of golf, but I actually don’t; people think I’m injured a lot but I’m actually not.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.