Manchester United and Tottenham are Gareth Bale's only realistic options for a move back to the Premier League, says Ian Rush.

Bale looks to be out of favour at Real Madrid, having failed to establish himself in Los Blancos' side since Zinedine Zidane made his return to the club.

The Wales forward was an unused substitute in Madrid's final-day defeat to Real Betis, with Zidane claiming afterwards he would not have brought the 29-year-old on even if he had more changes available.

Madrid have since spent big money on bringing in Eden Hazard to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, with Luka Jovic also joining from Eintracht Frankfurt to further bolster their attacking options.

Bale's future at the club looks firmly in doubt, though his agent has suggested that the ex-Tottenham winger, who scored eight LaLiga goals in 2018-19, is fully committed to seeing out his Madrid contract.

Wales icon Rush, however, is hopeful Bale will return to the Premier League, but suggested Spurs and United may be the only sides that would make a move for his compatriot.

"Apart from that, where else are you looking at?" former Liverpool and Juventus striker Rush told BBC Sport.

"Looking at Manchester United last season, I think he'd walk into that side now. 

"When a club wants to get rid of you and he wants to stay, it's very difficult and I feel for him because like I've said before, Real Madrid supporters should be applauding him.

"You get to a stage now where different managers have different ways. You just hope that Gareth gets back, hopefully, in the Premier League because everyone wants to see him play.

"In the last two Wales games he hasn't been the player he is, but sometimes even the greatest players have to have a couple of bad games.

"He's still got a few years left in him and it depends which club wants to take him."

Warren Gatland has been confirmed as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the 2021 tour of South Africa.

The departing Wales boss had previously ruled out a third successive stint with the Lions, stating he "hated the press and negativity" he experienced on the tour of New Zealand two years ago.

Yet after masterminding a 1-1 draw with the All Blacks in his homeland, the 55-year-old will lead the Lions in a series against the Springboks - eight years after he was first in charge for a 2-1 triumph in Australia.

Gatland will end his long tenure with Six Nations champions Wales after the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year and starts his Lions role on August 1, 2020.

"I'm hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again," said Gatland.

"It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four home nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.

"South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.

"Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

"History tells you it's a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.

"I'm delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales."

Gatland could make history by becoming the first Lions coach to lead tours of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa without suffering a series defeat.

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."

Mate Patkai dealt Wales' Euro 2020 qualification hopes a huge blow with a late winner for Hungary as Ryan Giggs' men lost 1-0 in Budapest, just three days after suffering a narrow defeat in Croatia.

Patkai's strike compounded a torrid evening for Gareth Bale after he missed Wales' best opportunity of the game when Tom Lawrence's cross landed at his feet 12 yards from goal, the Real Madrid forward firing tamely at Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

Giggs deployed Dan James as a lone striker in the first-half in Budapest and the 21-year-old outshone Bale with his incisive runs, but neither man could force a breakthrough before Patkai pounced on a loose ball after Jamie Lawrence and Ben Davies were outmuscled by Adam Szalai at a high ball.

The result leaves Wales second bottom in Group E with three points from three matches, while Hungary are top, three points clear of Slovakia, having won three of their opening four matches.

Jet-heeled Manchester United-bound winger Daniel James was likened to eight-time Olympic gold medallist sprinter Usain Bolt and Brazil icon Ronaldo by Hungary coach Marco Rossi ahead of Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifier with Wales.

James, 21, is on the brink of a move to Old Trafford from Welsh side Swansea City, with the clubs already agreeing a deal reported to be worth £18million.

The tricky wideman came to prominence this season, playing 33 times for the Swans in the Championship, scoring four times and setting up another seven.

His blistering pace is the attribute most have taken note of, with one particular goal against Brentford February's FA Cup meeting showcasing James' speed, as he left all the defenders in his tracks before finishing coolly.

Strong form for Swansea saw James break into Wales' senior squad in November and, prior to facing Hungary, opposing coach Rossi – a former Serie A player with Brescia and Sampdoria – showered the talent with praise.

"James' speed reminds me of Usain Bolt - to be so fast like him is really incredible," Rossi told a news conference on Monday.

"In the last years I don't remember one player that gave me this sensation. His acceleration is so extraordinary, which is why Manchester United have bought him.

"In the past, I played against a very fast player who, for me, was the best after [Diego] Maradona - Ronaldo.

"He was just not known for speed, but for everything. His acceleration looked like James', though at the moment the skills are a little bit different."

Hungary host Wales looking to extend their strong start to Euro 2020 qualification, while Ryan Giggs' side will be desperate to bounce back from Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Croatia.

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.

Ivan Perisic scored one goal and made the other as Croatia overcame Wales 2-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying in Osijek on Saturday.

Zlatko Dalic's side had lost their last Group E game against Hungary in March, but got back on track thanks to James Lawrence's first-half own goal and Perisic's 48th-minute strike following some shambolic Welsh defending.

Lawrence was unlucky to put through his own net, failing to sort his feet out when racing back towards goal, and the Anderlecht defender was one of three Wales players whose failure to clear allowed Perisic to increase the hosts' lead.

Substitute David Brooks' deflected effort 13 minutes from time gave Ryan Giggs' men hope of a comeback but they could not force an equaliser as the World Cup finalists held on for victory.

An eventful opening saw Perisic twice blaze over, either side of Harry Wilson volleying an even more presentable chance straight at Dominik Livakovic from Gareth Bale's quick-thinking long throw.

And Wales were made to pay for that miss in the 17th minute as Perisic got in behind down the left and drilled a low cross towards Andrej Kramaric that Lawrence deflected in.

Kramaric fired off-target as Croatia sought a second prior to half-time, although they were almost caught cold as Livakovic saved from Will Vaulks and then thwarted Ben Davies' rebound.

Within three minutes of the restart, Croatia doubled their lead as Wales gave the ball away and failed three times to clear their lines, allowing Perisic to rifle home.

Bale shot straight at Livakovic when well placed but the Croatia goalkeeper was completely wrong-footed when Brooks' attempt flicked off Domagoj Vida's head and in.

Brooks' weak effort in stoppage time proved the last chance for a dramatic leveller, though, as Wales were made to rue leaving themselves a mountain to climb in searing 30-degree heat.

 

What does it mean? Croatia back on course

Dalic's men have picked up home wins either side of that loss to Hungary and are momentarily top of the group. Wales, meanwhile, are back to earth with a bump following their opening win over Slovakia in March.

Perisic proves problematic

The Inter winger was a constant thorn in Wales' side, tormenting right-back Connor Roberts with relentlessly penetrating runs. Whenever Luka Modric picked up the ball in space in midfield, Perisic would set off at a canter, and the Real Madrid maestro would often find him.

Wales contribute to their own downfall

Lawrence's own goal was unfortunate, but the manner of the second – and so soon after half-time – will surely have irked Giggs. Having lost possession just outside their own area, Joe Allen, Lawrence and Roberts all had chances to clear before Perisic pounced.

What's next?

Wales travel to Hungary for their next clash on Tuesday, while Croatia are not in action again until September – a tricky trip to Slovakia.

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."

Wayne Pivac's first match in charge of Wales will see him take on predecessor Warren Gatland and the Barbarians in November.

Pivac will replace Gatland in charge of the Six Nations Grand Slam champions following this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

But Gatland, who has led Wales for 12 years, will soon return to Cardiff as the Baa-Baas coach, adding an intriguing narrative to Pivac's debut match.

Pivac said: "The Barbarians are a special side and it will be a great way to start my Wales career facing the Baa-Baas and, of course, Warren.

"Wales have an important five months ahead of them with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon but, post that tournament, I'm looking forward to kicking off my tenure with Wales, at home in Cardiff, in what will be a really special game."

The fixture will be part of a double-header with the respective women's teams also facing off.

The Barbarians lost 51-43 to an England XI in Sunday's Quilter Cup clash at Twickenham.

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."

Croatia will be without stars Ivan Rakitic and Ante Rebic for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifier against Wales.

Barcelona midfielder Rakitic and Eintracht Frankfurt's Rebic were ruled out due to leg and knee injuries respectively, the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) announced.

The 2018 World Cup runners-up will host Wales on June 8 before taking on Tunisia in a friendly three days later.

"We have jointly made the decision that Rakitic will not play," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said in a statement on Wednesday.

"He has had problems with his leg, it reoccurred in the Copa del Rey final and he won't be ready for Wales and won't play against Tunisia either.

"I believe in all the players in my squad, they can replace him with quality."

The injuries are a blow to Croatia, who won one and lost one of their opening two matches in Group E.

Daniel James has withdrawn from Wales' training camp in Portugal following the death of his father.

Swansea City offered condolences to their 21-year-old winger in a statement on Twitter.

"Everyone at Swansea City has been saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Daniel James' father," it read.

"Everyone at the football club send their condolences and our thoughts are with Daniel and his family at this sad time."

James, who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at Swansea this season – scoring four goals and laying on seven assists in 33 Championship appearances.

Ryan Giggs' Wales squad are in training ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers in Croatia and Hungary next month.

Gareth Bale has been included in a Wales training squad by Ryan Giggs amid speculation over his Real Madrid future.

Zinedine Zidane left Bale unused on the bench as Madrid ended their LaLiga season with a 2-0 home defeat against Real Betis on Sunday.

Bale has played a bit-part role since Zidane returned to the club and his time at the Santiago Bernabeu looks to be coming to an end.

Manchester United have long been linked with a move for Bale, whose agent Jonathan Barnett has said a Premier League return is possible.

Before a close-season break, Bale will link up with his international colleagues ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers versus Croatia and Hungary.

Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu are unavailable due to injury, while Ben Davies and Ben Woodburn are absent due to their sides - Tottenham and Liverpool - preparing to play the Champions League final on June 1.

After spending six days at the training camp Giggs will confirm a squad to face Croatia and Hungary on May 29.

Drawn in Group E, Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales made a winning start to their campaign with a home defeat of Slovakia in March.

Shaun Edwards has hit back at claims by incoming Wales coach Wayne Pivac that his decision to leave the national team's staff is financially motivated.

Edwards, who recently opted out of an agreement to become head coach of rugby league club Wigan Warriors, citing a lack of preparation time, was expected to remain with Wales when Pivac succeeds Warren Gatland after this year's World Cup in Japan.

However, he has been heavily linked to taking a position with France amid reports he was not offered the four-year contract without a break clause that he wanted to remain with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Ahead of Saturday's European Champions Cup play-off meeting with the Ospreys in Swansea, Scarlets boss Pivac described Edwards' decision as "an individual choice and probably a financial one".

"I am disappointed with Wayne Pivac's comments - he has no idea what my salary is in France," Edwards said in a statement issued to Wales Online.

"The Wales team is on the greatest run in the history of Welsh rugby with 14 international victories in a row.

"We have recently won the Grand Slam and a fourth Six Nations title under our head coach Warren Gatland.

"I have been a part of them and have given Wales 12 years of loyal service, enjoying my time here immensely and having a great rapport with the Welsh public, who I love.

"There's a lot to be excited about with the World Cup around the corner. I suggest we just do our own jobs and concentrate on the World Cup."

Sought-after Wales prop Nicky Smith has signed a new long-term deal with the Ospreys.

Smith had been linked with Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues along with Premiership clubs such as Gloucester and Sale Sharks.

The 25-year-old has decided to stay put, putting pen to paper on a new four-year deal ahead of a European Champions Cup play-off against the Scarlets on Saturday.

"I know it's dragged out probably longer than I was hoping but I'm just happy that I've committed my future to my home region," said Smith, capped 28 times by the Grand Slam winners.

"It was always going to be Ospreys and Wales for me. I'm just happy that we've got the right deal and I'm looking forward to the next four years.

"It's been a good season personally but there's always room for improvement and I know there's a lot I can work on so over these four years I can hopefully become a better player.

"We've got a big game at the weekend and I'm excited to hopefully be involved in it. It's been a tough training week, the boys are firing shots at each other, but it's all to get ourselves ready for a big game this Saturday to try and put the Ospreys where they should be, which is [in] the top flight in Europe."

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