Despite a troublesome season with Real Madrid, his international boss says the winger still has a lot of love for the game

Wales manager Ryan Giggs has insisted star player Gareth Bale remains happy and enthusiastic despite enduring a difficult season in Spain with Real Madrid.

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His comments come amid claims that the Cardiff-born attacker has lost his love for the game following a tricky spell that has seen him lose his place in Real’s starting XI and found himself stuck on the bench.

Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane even refused to bring him off the bench in the final La Liga game of the season, denying the 29-year-old a potential farewell and later saying: “He [Bale] has won a lot here, but we live for the present and the future.”

The £85.3m signing from Tottenham has also become a target for the club’s fans, with a recent poll revealing that only nine per cent of almost five million Real supporters want him to stay at the Bernabeu Stadium.

According to Giggs, however, Bale has lost none of his love for the game, and he has praised the former Southampton winger for his application and attitude ahead of Wales’ upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary.

“I saw him this week (at a training camp),” Giggs told The Mail, “and he looked like he enjoyed football to me.

“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.”

Despite winning four Champions League titles, three FIFA World Club titles, a La Liga crown and the Copa del Rey since his arrival in 2013, Bale’s future remains unclear.

When asked if he was surprised by the criticism aimed at Bale, who has also scored over 100 goals for the club, Giggs said: “Yes, but I’m not over there.

“I’m not a Real Madrid fan. I don’t know the ins and outs and I’m only looking from the outside.

“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.

“But we played a game (on Tuesday) and he looked really good, sharp and really fresh.

“I’m excited to see him in these two games.”

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