Gareth Bale can still”definitely do a job in the Premier League“, according to his former Welsh teammate Joe Ledley.
Bale will officially become a free agent at the end of this month when his contract at Real Madrid, where he has spent the last nine seasons, expires.
The 32-year-old is looking for a new club to maintain his fitness after inspiring Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years with a win over Ukraine on Sunday.
This ended any talk of an early retirement, with a number of clubs credited with an interest in Bale, including local side Cardiff City, Getafe and Major League Soccer sides.
Ledley, who played with Bale for Wales until 2018, believes top English clubs should consider a move for him, a year after his loan spell with Tottenham.
Speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, Ledley said: “I would obviously like to see him again at his home in Cardiff, but the championship is too much; it’s too many games.
“You play Saturday, Tuesday. The only advantage would be to have the Welsh medical team on their doorstep, which for me is one of the best medical teams around – and that would be good for them.
“But the World Cup is not far away. I don’t think he will miss many games wherever he has signed.
“He can definitely do a job in the Premier League, without a shadow of a doubt.
“We’ll see what happens but I’m sure after these few games [for Wales] he will rest for a month or two and decide his future.”
Bale won 16 trophies during his time at Madrid but barely featured in the 2021-22 campaign, which ended with Los Blancos winning a La Liga and Champions League double.
He has played seven of Madrid’s 56 appearances in all competitions – 13% – including only four starts.
Ledley believes Bale has been treated harshly by the Spanish giants but thinks the club and their supporters are already beginning to appreciate what he has achieved during his time there.
“I thought they were very tough on him considering what he had achieved,” he added.
“Then you see how grateful they were towards the end of his last appearance at the Bernabeu [when he was applauded by supporters]. They appreciate what he has done and that sometimes happens in football.
“Once they’re gone you appreciate them more, but during his time I thought they were very tough considering some of the other signings and other players they’ve had.
“They got away with a bit more than Gareth considering what he achieved there.
“But it’s football and people maybe say he didn’t help himself and stuff like that, but, for me, he’s one of the most dedicated footballers and professionals. He was never in the papers for the bad stuff.”
There had been speculation that Bale could retire if Wales failed to qualify for Qatar 2022, but Ledley hopes the Dragons’ success means he will go on for a while yet.
“I’m sure he’s devoted trying to play for Wales as long as possible,” he said.
“The only thing you miss is playing for your national team because we have this kind of unique camp where everyone loves coming together for Wales and I think he would miss that.
“I’m just grateful that he still has another year in him, hopefully, and that he hasn’t decided to retire because football is better with him.”