Gareth Bale planning for Real Madrid return in the summer

Gareth Bale plans to end his Tottenham stay at the end of the season and return to Real Madrid.

Wales captain Bale joined Spurs on loan in September and has had a mixed season with form and fitness issues dominating his second spell in north London.

The 31-year-old’s Madrid contract runs until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Wales Training Session – The Vale Resort – Tuesday March 23rd 2021
Gareth Bale (centre) training with the Wales squad ahead of their opening World Cup qualifier in Belgium (David Davies/PA)

“There’s no distraction for me,” Bale told a press conference ahead of Wales’ opening 2022 World Cup qualifier in Belgium.

“I think the main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost.

“Going into the Euros I wanted to be match-fit. The original plan was to do a season at Spurs and after the Euros still have a year left at Real Madrid.

“My plan is to go back, that’s as far I have planned.”

Jose Mourinho File Photo
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said earlier this month that Bale’s future was in the hands of Real Madrid (Neil Hall/PA)

Spurs manager Jose Mourinho said earlier this month that Bale’s future beyond the end of the season was a matter for Real.

Mourinho appeared to question Bale’s attitude after Tottenham’s FA Cup defeat to Everton in February, the Portuguese admitting he was surprised the player asked for a scan on an injury he described as “not obvious”.

But Bale then enjoyed a first-team resurgence, scoring six goals in six games before Spurs’ season took a turn for the worse with a derby defeat to Arsenal and a Europa League exit at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb.

Bale was benched for the 3-0 defeat in Croatia and the 2-0 Premier League win at Aston Villa on Sunday.

On arriving fresh for international duty, Bale said: “Over the last few years this is probably the most match fitness I’ve had.

“I’m feeling fresh and ready to go. I always think when things aren’t going too well at a club, it’s nice to get away, especially mentally, get away from the club environment.

“Definitely it can be a benefit. We focus on these games for Wales, which are very important for us.

“We forget club life and concentrate on this.”

Wales open their World Cup qualifying campaign against Belgium in Leuven on Wednesday before hosting the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Bale has never played at a World Cup finals and admits he would swap one of his four Champions League winners’ medals to grace that stage at Qatar 2022.

“Obviously, realistically that’s not going to happen,” Bale said when that scenario was put to him. “But why not?

“I remember playing Ireland (in 2018 World Cup qualification). I was up in the stands and it was very frustrating, I felt like I was kicking every ball.

Wales v Republic of Ireland – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Gareth Bale was injured and a frustrated spectator when Wales’ 2018 World Cup qualification hopes were ended by defeat to the Republic of Ireland (Nick Potts/PA)

“It was obviously difficult after the game to have the loss and the dream of World Cup qualifying end.

“Hopefully we can draw on those experiences in a positive way and use that hurt to push us even harder this time around.

“It might be the last time my generation has the opportunity to qualify for a World Cup.

“We haven’t done that as a country for a long time and it’s something that the players dream of doing. We’ll give everything we can to do that.”

Wales will be without defenders Ben Davies and Tom Lockyer for their opening two World Cup qualifiers, as well as Saturday’s Cardiff friendly with Mexico.

A Football Association of Wales statement said: “Ben Davies and Tom Lockyer have both withdrawn from the squad due to injury.”

The loss of the 58-times capped Davies will be particularly felt by caretaker manager Robert Page, who described his absence as “significant”.

Lockyer’s absence is less surprising as the Hatters defender has not played since sustaining an ankle injury against Cardiff last month.