Gareth Bale needs ‘sympathetic’ club, says Wales manager Robert Page

  • Free agent wants to be at peak fitness for November World Cup
  • ‘That will be his difficulty. He understands what he needs to do’

Robert Page has said Gareth Bale will have to find a club sympathetic to his needs if the Wales captain is to arrive at the World Cup in peak condition.

Page said he will discuss with Bale and Aaron Ramsey next week how they intend to resolve their uncertain club futures. Bale is a free agent after departing Real Madrid and Ramsey has a year on his contract at Juventus, who sanctioned what proved to be a fruitless loan to Rangers in January. The Wales manager said it would be unrealistic for Bale to lead the team in Qatar without signing for a club because “all the training in the world” does not replicate match fitness.

Page allows Bale and Ramsey to follow individual training programmes but admitted club managers may be reluctant to allow the same degree of licence.

“Clubs must be looking at them and thinking: ‘How can they do that for their country?’” Page said. “It is a common-sense approach for us. It is hard when you’re trying to create that environment at club level, when you’ve got other world-class players around you. We haven’t got 10 Gareth Bales in that [Wales] changing room. It is harder to do that [at club level]; you do have to have that sort of ‘throw the blanket over all of the players, this is how we’re going to train today’.

“That is going to be his [Bale’s] difficulty, finding someone that will manage him. He has to take that responsibility himself and that will determine whether he plays a lot of football because if he’s not able to train like that through the week the manager at the respective club might not want to select him on the weekend. He understands what he needs to do.

Wales' Aaron Ramsey (left)
Wales' Aaron Ramsey (left) has a year left on his Juventus contract but is out of favour with the Turin club. Photograph: Ian Cook/CameraSport/Getty Images

“Gareth’s problems in the past have been when he’s not been playing week in, week out, and for the Belarus game he came into camp undercooked and ended up getting a little tweak in his calf, so he understands he needs to play. It is up to him and his family to decide on where is best for him to get in the right frame of mind for November, it’s going to be as simple as that, and it might even be as short term as that.”

Bale played 22 minutes for Real between Wales’ playoff semi-final win against Austria in March and the victory against Ukraine in the final on Sunday and Ramsey struggled for game time at Rangers, for whom he missed the decisive penalty in the Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

“At the end of the camp, at the end of the last game, I will have that conversation,” Page said when asked about Ramsey’s future. “They’re experienced players and they’ll know what’s best for themselves. If he has to go back and do a pre-season to see where he is at, then he’ll probably do that and make that decision before the [transfer] window closes, to get out and maybe have another loan move or whatever.”

Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson will start for Wales in their Nations League match at home against the Netherlands on Wednesday. He was wanted by several Premier League clubs in January, including Brentford, but stayed to win promotion with his boyhood club via the Championship playoff final.

“I always believed in myself and to do it with Forest is just so much better – it is what I wanted,” Johnson, 21, said. “To play in the Premier League this season is definitely something I felt like I had to be doing and in terms of my Wales career as well I think it puts me in a really good stead to get into the team. Going into a Premier League season with a World Cup, it is another real test that I can’t wait for.”


Ben Fisher

The GuardianTramp

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