Chris Coleman has defended Gareth Bale's reserved nature and revealed the oft-criticised Real Madrid winger can speak perfect Spanish.

Wales star Bale almost left LaLiga for China during a turbulent close season in which Zinedine Zidane attempted to force him out of the Santiago Bernabeu.

The pair's relationship reportedly became fractured as Madrid fans showed increasing coldness towards the four-time Champions League winner, their treatment of him described as a "disgrace" by the player's agent.

Criticism of Bale has tended to centre on his speculated inability to learn Spanish as part of a wider reluctance to integrate into the country's culture.

Coleman, who managed the former Tottenham talisman for over five years at international level, believes such accusations are at least in part unfounded.

"I saw John Toshack saying Gareth hasn't given enough of himself to the public in Madrid," the former Wales boss told The Athletic.

"Well he's never done that. It's not his character. When he comes home he plays golf, stays with his family, in his little circle.

"I just thought it was unfair when people were picking him apart. He should do this, do that. No, be yourself. If he's not happy in his head he won't be right on the pitch.

"I've been with Gareth in Madrid, in a restaurant, and he's speaking perfect Spanish, ordering food, greeting people.

"He was very polite, but it's his own space. He has done all his talking on the pitch. He is the most decorated foreign import from the UK."

Bale was Coleman's key man when Wales exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2016.

Coleman stepped down the following November to take up an ill-fated opportunity at Sunderland, with Ryan Giggs named as his replacement.

Performances have not been entirely convincing but the former Fulham manager expects his successor to prove a shrewd appointment.

"I think he'll be good at it," Coleman said. "He is different to me and will do it his own way. Ryan's quiet, but he's super strong mentally."

He added: "Ryan's ego is not big enough where he thinks he's got all the answers, because none of us have. This is his first job, we mustn't forget that. He's going to get better and better."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Daniel James to continue his flying start to life at Old Trafford.

Winger James, 21, joined United from Swansea City in June for a reported £15million in a deal that caught many by surprise given he had been close to signing for Championship side Leeds United a few months earlier.

Of United's three close-season signings – Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire being the others – James was the least heralded, but the rapid forward has arguably made the greatest impact, scoring three times in four Premier League appearances as well as being named the club's Player of the Month for August.

A goal against Leicester City on Saturday will make James – who also netted on international duty with Wales on Monday – only the second United player to score in his first three Premier League games at Old Trafford and Solskjaer has great expectations.

"He's had a great start and transferring that into the Wales games is great for him and great for Giggsy [Wales boss Ryan Giggs]," Solskjaer told United's official app.

"I just hope he [James] feels that there's more to come. We feel there's more to come. He's had a great start, but it's just the start of his career."

Saturday's clash will see Maguire come up against his former club for the first time since leaving them to become the world's most expensive defender and Solskjaer is confident he will thrive despite the impressive form of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.

"They're creative, they have pace, there's a good link-up between the two of them," Solskjaer said of Leicester's star duo.

"We know from last year that Maddison created loads of chances and to have Vardy's energy and penetration and running in behind all the time is great for any creative player.

"I know he [Maguire] will be fine, because he's a top character and a top player. I'm sure he'll look forward to playing against his old team-mates.

"He'll know them and they'll know him. I'm sure we'll see the best of Harry in that game."

Ryan Giggs hailed "amazing" Daniel James after the young winger continued his impressive campaign with a match-winning strike in the 1-0 victory against Belarus.

James cut inside from the left and curled the ball away from Maksim Plotnikov for the only goal of the game 17 minutes into Monday's friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium.

He has now scored twice in six senior appearances for Wales and has hit the ground running at new club Manchester United, the 21-year-old finding the net three times in his first four appearances since joining in a reported £15million deal.

Giggs was tempted to rest James for the friendly in Cardiff, watched by a low crowd of just 7,666 spectators, but the ex-Swansea City ace put his name forward for selection and lit up the game with his play out wide.

"It was a difficult one with Dan whether to rest him, but he wanted to play," Giggs said at his post-match news conference.

"When you are in form like his, players just want to play and keep scoring. He gets fans off their feet. Every time he gets the ball the fans are looking for him to do something.

"Regarding the fans, I would like to thank fans who did turn up because it's not easy. The schools have gone back and it's difficult to get to games. But I think they would have enjoyed it tonight and enjoyed Dan's performance as well as the team performance."

James has earned obvious comparisons to Giggs and has been challenged by his national boss and compatriot to maintain his fine form.

"I think early on when I saw DJ, just like any young winger, there can be that improvement with the final ball and scoring more goals and he's doing that," said Giggs, who spent 24 trophy-laden years in United's senior team.

"To do what he's done at the start of the season is amazing. The next step is showing that consistency and he needs to carry it on, but I've got no doubts that will happen because he wants to be the best.

"He's a great character and a great trainer. He wanted to play tonight. I'm really pleased for him. He's one of those players where you know what he's going to do but you can't stop it."

James also played the full 90 minutes of Friday's 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win against Azerbaijan and will now head back to his club side ahead of the Premier League clash with Leicester City.

"I'm loving football at the minute," James told Sky Sports. "The season's started well for me and I've got to continue doing it. 

"I've got the right people around me - the gaffer is here and great at United, too - and it's about continuing that."

He added: "I know it was only a friendly but we played some great football and we should have gone two or three nil up. We've got to score more goals in our next camp."

Wales return to qualifying action on October 10 with a trip to Slovakia and take on Croatia in Cardiff three days later.

Gareth Bale says he would be wasting his time playing for Wales if he did not believe Ryan Giggs' side could qualify for Euro 2020.

Bale salvaged a victory for Wales on Friday, with his late goal securing a 2-1 home win over Azerbaijan.

The win lifted Wales on to six points from their four games in Group E, and though they sit in fourth, they are only three points behind joint-leaders Croatia and Hungary.

Slovakia are level with Wales as it stands, and the sides will face off in what could be a crucial qualifier on October 10.

Though Bale acknowledged the squad are still working on adapting to Giggs' desired style of play, he is in no doubt Wales - semi-finalists at Euro 2016 - can qualify for next year's tournament.

"Yeah definitely, I wouldn't be here otherwise, I would not be wasting my time," Bale told a news conference ahead of Monday's friendly against Belarus.

"I love playing for my country, I love trying to qualify for major tournaments and having that taste of it at Euro 2016 gives you that hunger to do it again and to experience what we did.

"We all still fully believe we can and we hope the public still believes and give us all the support we need because they're the 12th man.

"I think we're still working on things and there's things we're improving on. We're working on [Giggs'] style of play, what he wants us to do and sometimes it does take a bit of time.

"I think that's why it's good now to have a friendly. A match situation is always more intense and more difficult to do things than in training.

"We still want to keep that winning mentality and get that momentum building and by winning games that's what you do."

Bale's header against Azerbaijan took the 30-year-old four clear of Ian Rush as the leading scorer in Wales' history with 32, and the Real Madrid forward acknowledged he has a target of international goals in mind.

"I've got a little target in my head but it's just one of those personal goals," Wales' captain added.

"If I achieve it, great, but if I don't then it's okay. It's something I'd like to do but the most important thing is to win games for my country and to give fans something to cheer about."

Ryan Giggs does not think Wales' slender 2-1 win over Azerbaijan is anything to be alarmed about, reminding his critics World Cup finalists Croatia only beat Nikola Jurcevic's men by the same score.

Wales dominated much of the Euro 2020 qualifier at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, taking the lead fortuitously in the first half when Gareth Bale's deflected effort looped into the area and was diverted past the stranded goalkeeper by the oblivious Pavlo Pashayev.

Azerbaijan were back on level terms just before the hour, as Neil Taylor gifted possession to Ramil Sheydaev and he fed Mahir Emreli, who slotted home on the rebound after Wayne Hennessey haplessly fumbled the initial tame effort right back to the forward.

Luckily for Wales, Bale – who was otherwise disappointing – nodded in six minutes from time to secure the win.

Wales fans have been extremely critical of Giggs in recent months, though he looked to calm those concerned by Friday's performance, highlighting Croatia's identical result.

"[Bale's goal] was huge – we needed that win no matter how we got it," Giggs said. "Obviously we wanted to play well, score lots of goals, but sometimes football is like that.

"You have to show character. The lads worked hard. It's the same score Croatia beat Azerbaijan by at home, so they're not an easy team to play against, they're good on the counter.

"We had no excuses tonight and we haven't going forward. We need to play better, show the same character, but be better on the ball."

Despite their dominance, Wales struggled to carve out clear-cut chances and break their visitors down but Giggs insists he knows what went wrong.

"In the first half we just didn't stick to the plan," Giggs added. "When we did [stick to the plan], we looked dangerous.

"We created chances, space, but we were in too much of a hurry to get up the pitch instead of making Azerbaijan run.

"When we made them run, moved the ball quickly, that was when the spaces appeared. There were too many players who weren't on form, but we worked hard, I can never fault the way they worked, the character they've shown, because it's not easy. I'm delighted with the character shown."

The result leaves Wales third in Group E, three points behind top two Hungary and Croatia.

Gareth Bale scored a late winner to keep Wales' Euro 2020 qualification hopes very much alive with a 2-1 triumph over Azerbaijan in Cardiff on Friday.

Ryan Giggs' men looked to be heading for a thoroughly underwhelming stalemate, but Bale – who was otherwise poor – came up trumps six minutes from time to keep them in the hunt in Group E.

Wales were dominant in the first half and played the ball around nicely, though clear-cut chances were hard to come by, with the hosts having to rely on a freak Pavlo Pashayev own goal to take the lead.

They had similar issues after the break and a costly combination of errors from Neil Taylor and Wayne Hennessey allowed Mahir Emreli to equalise, but Bale - back among the goals at club level with Real Madrid - nodded in towards the end to rescue Giggs' side.

Gareth Bale has cleared the air with Thibaut Courtois after the goalkeeper let slip that Real Madrid team-mates nicknamed the Welsh star "the golfer".

That revelation emerged earlier this year when Courtois, in an interview with a Belgian newspaper, also hinted at bemusement over Bale and Toni Kroos skipping a team evening meal because they wanted to avoid a late night.

Bale, who says his critics are misinformed and their verdicts on his Santiago Bernabeu career "mean nothing", made sure he got to the bottom of Courtois' comments.

And he believes the Belgian goalkeeper meant no offence.

"I am a golfer!" Bale said in a Wales news conference on Thursday. "I spoke to him about it and he meant it as a joke.

"People took it out of context, but I'm very happy with the nickname to be honest. It's a great one.

"Obviously football is number one. Golf is a hobby like anyone else would have a hobby.

"There's nothing wrong with having a round and people make a lot of it. It's just one thing I really enjoy. It keeps me calmer off the pitch."

Bale's scorn for the hot takes about his Madrid future was spelt out by the 30-year-old, after a transfer window full of speculation linking him with a move away from Spain.

He reportedly came close to joining Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, and was linked with various Premier League teams, but ended up staying in Madrid.

Asked about the rumours surrounding him, Bale said: "I just don't listen to any of it because they don't really know what they're on about. I don't read anything, I don't listen to anyone.

"Most people don't know the situation, don't understand things, so what they're writing means nothing."

After regaining the faith of Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who said during the summer it would be "best for everyone" if Bale moved on, the winger could yet have successful years ahead at the club.

Wales boss Ryan Giggs enjoyed seeing his star man net a double in Madrid's 2-2 draw at Villarreal on Sunday, although Bale's late red card was a blemish on that performance.

"It's good to see him scoring again because usually when he scores he gets on a roll, so hopefully that'll be the case," Giggs said.

Manchester United winger Daniel James could eventually supplant Bale as the Wales talisman, but Giggs is thrilled at the prospect of them playing in tandem for now.

"Dan's got off to a great start in his Manchester United career but also he's been brilliant for us in the last few games, especially in the summer [June] under difficult circumstances," said Giggs, referring to James' father dying in late May.

"It's not only about Gareth. The pressure is always on Gareth and the spotlight is always on Gareth, but I want to bring that pressure off Gareth where we can't rely on him in every game because we have other talented players in the squad."

Wales face Azerbaijan in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday, having lost their past two Group E matches.

Ryan Giggs is pleased Gareth Bale's Real Madrid future has for now been resolved but he still would have picked the forward for Wales had he moved to China.

Bale appeared to be on the brink of a switch to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning amid an apparent breakdown in relations with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, that prospective transfer fell through and Zidane has since indicated Bale will be staying at Madrid beyond the end of the transfer window.

Speaking after naming his squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan next month, Wales manager Giggs said: "I kept in touch with him [Bale] to see if he was all right.

"It was a strange situation but hopefully now it's sorted out - Gareth stays and plays games.

"It's obviously positive at the moment, I'm really pleased with the situation and looking forward to meeting up."

Asked what impact a move to China would have had on Bale's international career, Giggs replied: "It wouldn't have been ideal.

"It's a preference for your players to be in Europe with the travelling and the different calendars, but I'd still have picked him."

Former Manchester United star Giggs believes the Red Devils' Welsh winger Daniel James requires more protection from referees.

James was booked for simulation in United's 1-1 draw with Wolves, in which he was persistently fouled.

"You've seen he gets kicked a lot," Giggs added of James.

"Sometimes when you anticipate it, it can look live a dive. The speed he's going at it can look worse, but I'm not worried about that.

"He gets a lot of stick and referees need to protect him."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likened Mason Greenwood's emergence at Manchester United to club legend Ryan Giggs after the teenage attacker starred against Inter.

Greenwood scored his second pre-season goal when he fired home an excellent 76th-minute winner in United's deserved 1-0 victory in the International Champions Cup.

The woodwork later denied the substitute a brace in what was a lively a second-half cameo.

Solskjaer has already seen enough to fast-track the 17-year-old into his first-team calculations, much as Alex Ferguson did with a wiry Giggs in 1991.

"Mason has never been on my [list to] send out on loan," Solskjaer said.

"He's one we have to keep at our place, keep him playing when we think it's good for him and at the moment he's fine.

"He reminds me of the Giggsy story. You can't really send him on loan. For me he's ready to be in this squad.

"He's been with us the last few months and he's grown in confidence, grown in stature

"When you've got players in good form it's difficult to keep them out.

"But we've got to keep our feet on the ground with him as well because we know he's only 17 and there will be ups and downs, but at the moment he's enjoying his football."

United performed well to see off the Serie A side but it was not all good news for the Red Devils, who lost Victor Lindelof to a seemingly minor muscle problem early in the second half.

Tahith Chong also made way towards the end of the contest after receiving some heavy challenges.

"We don't know yet... I think they should be okay," Solskjaer told MUTV when asked for an update on the pair.

"We'll have to assess [Lindelof] tomorrow."

Daniel James wants to emulate Manchester United great Ryan Giggs after making a good impression on his debut.

The 21-year-old became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first United signing after arriving from Swansea City in a reported £15million deal last month.

He appeared in a United shirt for the first time on Saturday as Solskjaer's side beat Perth Glory 2-0 in a friendly at Optus Stadium.

It marks an incredible rise for James, who only made his senior debut for Swansea 17 months ago and has since gone on to represent Wales four times, with each of those caps coming under Giggs' management.

And the youngster believes there is no better mentor than his esteemed compatriot as he aims to make a name for himself at Old Trafford.

"Giggsy, as soon as I came into the Wales set up, had ambitions for me," he told reporters. "The way he brought me and a lot of other youngsters through has been amazing.

"He spoke to me when I first signed for United. His advice was to be myself, which is what I will try to do. 

"He wasn’t a bad player, was he? What he did at Manchester United was amazing. Every young winger looks up to a person like him.

"He was playing in the Premier League until he was 40 and he was still beating players. Credit to him, the way he looks after his body.

"It is amazing for me, when I go away on internationals, to learn from people like him. He is obviously someone I aspire to be like."

James made the most of his 45 minutes on the field in United's opening pre-season friendly against Perth as he put his blistering pace to good use down both flanks.

More than 50,000 spectators were in attendance and James is now looking forward to walking down the Old Trafford tunnel for the first time to play in front of an even bigger crowd.

"The amount of fans that have come from everywhere is surreal, really," he said. "Playing with those players is a dream come true.

"Walking out at Old Trafford is the big one. That is when it will probably sink in.

"But the amount of fans that also came to training shows the support this club has got. The amount of fans that turned up tonight from all over is just amazing."

James is one of two signings made by Solskjaer during the close season, along with right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace for a reported £50m.

Plenty of negativity surrounds United following their sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season, but James was never in any doubt that it is the right club for him.

"When a club like Manchester United come calling you can't say, 'no'," he added

"As soon as they did there was no thought in my mind not to be here."

Gianluigi Buffon is extending his remarkable a career for at least another season after completing a stunning return to Juventus on a one-year contract.

Just as he did upon joining Paris Saint-Germain 12 months ago, the Italy legend has shelved thoughts of retirement and will once again intend on challenging for the number one shirt at a dominant domestic force.

It will be the Parma product's 25th season as a professional but, even with his World Cup and nine Serie A titles, the 41-year-old is not alone in at least one respect.

Here are seven  other football legends who, like Buffon, carried on playing into their fifth decade.


RYAN GIGGS

Wales manager Ryan Giggs was an ultimate one-club man, staying at Manchester United for the entirety of his glittering career. Giggs managed to slowly transform himself from a rapid, tricky winger into a cultured central midfielder in the latter years of his playing days, helping to extend his time on the pitch beyond 40. Giggs won an extraordinary haul of medals at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a pair of Champions League crowns. Giggs played in 632 Premier League games, scoring 109 goals, with only Gareth Barry topping his appearance tally. Giggs worked as Louis van Gaal's assistant at United, having taken charge on an interim basis following the sacking of David Moyes, and he will go down in history as both a club and football legend.

PAOLO MALDINI

Paolo Maldini was still going strong for AC Milan beyond his 40th birthday and, like Giggs, he only ever played for one club. Seven league titles and an incredible five European Cup/Champions League wins headline a litany of honours that Maldini helped marshal at San Siro, playing across their near impenetrable back four for almost 25 years. Maldini, son of another Milan legend, Cesare, is one of a select group of players who made over 1,000 appearances in all competitions during their career. To complete the journey, the former Italy man returned to the Rossoneri as technical director in June.

KAZUYOSHI MIURA

Kazuyoshi Miura is the only other man on this list, alongside Buffon, who is still playing. That the Japanese striker made his debut almost 10 years beforehand begins to tell part of his incredible tale. Known as King Kazu, Miura plays for Yokohama FC in Japan's second tier and signed a fresh deal in January to extend his career. The oldest player and goalscorer in the history of global professional football, Miura is regarded as one of the finest Asian players never to have featured at a World Cup, although he made 89 appearances for his country.

 

STANLEY MATTHEWS

Before Miura snatched them off him, Stanley Matthews held the record for both the oldest professional footballer and the oldest goalscorer in the game. Matthews - the Wizard of Dribble - made nearly 700 league appearances for Stoke City and Blackpool in a career that spanned three decades. The 1953 FA Cup final is regarded as the Matthews Final, even though Blackpool's Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick. Matthews won the first-ever European Footballer of the Year award, while he was capped for England 84 times.

DINO ZOFF

Goalkeepers often play deep into their thirties, but not many captain their country to World Cup glory at the age of 40. But that is exactly what Dino Zoff did at the World Cup in 1982. He made 40 appearances in World Cup finals and qualifiers in total, while as a coach he led Italy to the final of Euro 2000. It must be something about Juventus, as Buffon's club is also where Zoff spent the best years of his career, winning six Serie A titles.

RIVALDO

Best known for his spell at Barcelona in club football, Brazil icon Rivaldo was still playing beyond his 40th birthday, albeit only briefly. Rivaldo came out of retirement to sign for Mogi Mirim, the club where his son Rivaldinho was also on the books. Rivaldo picked up two LaLiga titles at Barcelona before continuing his European adventure with AC Milan, winning the 2002–03 Champions League with the Rossoneri. But it is as a Brazil international that Rivaldo is best remembered, having been a key part of the side that won the World Cup in 2002.

 

ROGER MILLA

Roger Milla became the World Cup's oldest scorer when he hit the net for Cameroon in 1994 at the age of 42, having announced himself at the same tournament four years previously with his famous corner-flag dance. Milla's four goals at the 1990 World Cup helped Cameroon to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament and he is fondly regarded as one of Africa's greatest ever players. Remarkably, Milla regained the African Footballer of the Year title 14 years after he first won the award.

Ryan Giggs admitted he has faced "a juggling act" in trying to find an effective role for Gareth Bale in his Wales side after watching the Real Madrid forward struggle in a 1-0 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat against Hungary.

Bale missed Wales' best opportunity of the game, firing tamely at Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi when the ball arrived at his feet 12 yards from goal, and Mate Patkai punished his wastefulness by scoring the winner 10 minutes from time.

After opting to play Dan James as a lone striker while Bale started on the left wing, Giggs said the forward's morale was not a problem during training despite the 29-year-old having endured a difficult season in LaLiga.

"He is disappointed like all of us with the two games," Giggs told reporters when asked about Bale.

"I have said before, in the training camp he was great, about the place he has been great. It's difficult fitness wise having not played for a long time and then that short turnaround.

"The way he plays as well, those high-intensity sprints. It's difficult. But he's been fine around the place, no problem.

"It's always a bit of a juggling act trying to find where Gareth can be effective. We have so many players who can play off the right or number 10.

"Gareth has shown over the last few years he can play up front, number 10, off the right. It's my job to try and get his best position and to get the other players in their best positions as well."

The defeat was Wales' second in four days and left them second-bottom of Euro 2020 qualifying Group E after three games played, and Giggs acknowledged his side face a struggle to get their campaign back on track in their remaining five matches.

Group E strugglers Azerbaijan are Wales' next opponents on September 6, by which time Giggs will hope his squad is in better shape.

Having seen his side lose 2-1 in Croatia three days before their reverse in Hungary, Giggs said: "We've had two tough away games five weeks after the season finished, and you saw it in both games - a lot of the players were short of match fitness and we're asking miracles of our players.

"Ethan [Ampadu] has not really played, I did well to get 50 minutes out of him. Brooksy [David Brooks] was the same. Asking Gareth [Bale] to play two games in a short space of time with the way he plays after not playing for six weeks.

"But still, we had enough chances to win the games. It's tough, not enough of our players were at peak fitness but we have to probably win nearly every game now.

"We've made it really difficult for ourselves and we're probably relying on other teams to drop points, which they will do, because it's a competitive group.

"But obviously we have to start winning, if not win all of the games, then the majority of them."

Ryan Giggs was left to rue missed chances as his Wales side went down 2-1 to Croatia in Euro 2020 qualifying on Saturday.

Croatia lost their last Group E game against Hungary in March, but returned to winning ways against Wales, with Ivan Perisic at the heart of things.

Having seen his cross deflect in off James Lawrence for Croatia's opener in the first half, Perisic got on the scoresheet himself shortly after the interval, with David Brooks' deflected strike proving a mere consolation.

While Croatia had plenty of opportunities themselves, matters might have been different had Harry Wilson done better with an early volley, while Gareth Bale also passed up a presentable chance and Brooks flapped at a chance to double his tally and salvage a point late on.

And Giggs was frustrated with his side's profligacy as Wales slipped to a first defeat of their qualification campaign.

"I'm obviously disappointed not to get something out of the game with the chances we had," Giggs told reporters.

"We looked the fitter side at the end. We looked like the ones pushing and it looked like Croatia were hanging on.

"When you end the game like that and have the chances we had, you've got to be disappointed and it's definitely one that got away.

"We had so many good chances and we didn't manage to put them away. We didn't really play well and gave away two poor goals. When you don't play like you can do and still create chances against this top team, it's disappointing.

"I said to the players, 'We've missed a chance', especially with the way we ended the game, we ended so strong. When it gets stretched, Croatia had chances on the break, but you expect that."

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, meanwhile, was encouraged by his side's reaction to their defeat last time out, though acknowledged his players must be prepared to battle their way to Euro 2020.

"We are in first place, we are favourites, but it will be a fight," he told reporters.

Daniel James needs to be himself and enjoy the challenge if he is to become a success at Manchester United, according to Wales manager Ryan Giggs.

United confirmed on Friday an agreement in principle to sign the 21-year-old had been reached with Swansea City, with James having undergone a medical ahead of a reported £18million transfer.

James has just one season of senior football under his belt, but he has caught the eye with his displays out wide for Swansea and Wales.

And United legend Giggs believes the transfer is good business for all three parties involved, with the pacy winger expected to challenge for regular first-team football next season.

"I know the United fans will get behind him and enjoy watching him. It's fantastic for everyone I think - for Dan, for Manchester United, and it's a good deal for Swansea as well," he told reporters. 

"It's the biggest club in the world so my message to him is enjoy the challenge, don't be anyone else, and you'll be fine."

Giggs has included James, whose father Kevan died suddenly last month, as part of his Wales squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary.

"Dan is fine. He's trained well and he's a level-headed lad," Giggs said. "Obviously after the terrible news with his dad we had to be flexible in everything that was on the table. 

"He went home on Thursday, but he's in a good place. He's assured me he's ready to play."

Gareth Bale still loves playing football although he is on the fringes at Real Madrid, according to Wales manager Ryan Giggs.

Bale and Giggs are preparing for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary but the forward's club future is up in the air.

Zinedine Zidane appeared unwilling to use Bale in the closing weeks of Madrid's LaLiga season, with the pair having reportedly fallen out during the Frenchman's first spell in charge.

Bale helped Madrid win three consecutive Champions League titles under Zidane but his time in the Spanish capital now seems to be drawing to a close.

Giggs, though, does not feel Bale's situation at Madrid has resulted in the 29-year-old falling out of love with the sport.

"We played a game [on Tuesday] and he looked really good, sharp and really fresh," Giggs said. "I'm excited to see him in these two games [against Croatia and Hungary].

"He was sharp, he wanted the ball, and he was practising his trademark of cutting in on his left foot. He scored a great goal.

"Afterwards when a lot of the lads went in he was practising his shooting, so that doesn't strike me as someone who just wants to get off and go back to his room.

"It struck me as a professional who still loves football."

Bale is Wales' star man but his bit-part role for Real Madrid means he is widely expected to leave the club, with a return to the Premier League mooted for the former Tottenham star.

"I'm not a Real Madrid fan. I don't know the ins and outs and I'm only looking from the outside," Giggs added.

"But you've got a player who won the team the Champions League final last year with one of the best goals you've ever seen and performs for that team week in, week out.

"I remember the original Ronaldo getting stick off Real Madrid fans. I remember Cristiano [Ronaldo] getting stick early doors.

"It's that kind of club, it's a club like no other where the white handkerchiefs come out if they don't like you. That's just the way it is.

"If he's flying for Real Madrid then I'm asked if that's a benefit. If he's not, then he's coming in fresh. There is always an angle."

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