Bale staying put as Ronaldo laps up adulation

MADRID • Gareth Bale has insisted that he has no intention of leaving Real Madrid this summer, amid speculation that Manchester United may attempt to sign the Wales forward for a fee of more than £100 million (S$177 million).

Bale was a second-half substitute in his home city of Cardiff as Real became the first side to retain the Champions League trophy with a comprehensive 4-1 win against Juventus on Saturday.

However, the injury-plagued 27-year-old made only 19 league appearances for the club as they won their first LaLiga title since 2011.

That has fuelled rumours that United could turn to Bale after cooling their approach for Antoine Griezmann following the French forward's confirmation on Sunday that he would not be leaving Atletico Madrid this summer.

Bale, who agreed to a new deal in October lasting until 2022 worth £350,000 a week, was adamant that he wants to remain at Real.

"I've signed a long-term contract at Madrid," he said. "My family is happy and I am happy so we will continue what we are doing. We are winning trophies and I am happy."

"It's been a tough year with a lot of football and the injuries. But I still finished the season happy, it's a great finish with another trophy."

Real fans, meanwhile, called for Cristiano Ronaldo to win a fifth Ballon d'Or on Sunday as the Spanish giants paraded the Champions League trophy for a record 12th time.

Ronaldo scored twice in Real's thrashing of Juventus and also became the first player to score in three Champions League finals.

Sporting a newly cropped haircut, the Portuguese was the star of a spectacular light-and-fireworks show as 81,000 fans crammed into Real's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"Cristiano Ballon d'Or," he sang along with the fans as he was lifted into the air by his team-mates.

Ronaldo is the hot favourite to win the annual award for the best player in the world for a fifth time that would see him equal Barcelona rival Lionel Messi's record.

"The truth is it has been a spectacular season," added Ronaldo.

It is also the first time Real have won both LaLiga and the Champions League in the same season for 59 years.

"The players have entered into the legend of Real Madrid and of football, as has our coach," said club president Florentino Perez.

"He (Zidane) is the only one to win two consecutive Champions Leagues," added Perez. "That is why he is already the best coach in the world."

Chants of Zidane's name also rang out around the Bernabeu.

"I want to thank all of you. It has been a spectacular year thanks to you," the Real coach said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'Bale staying put as Ronaldo laps up adulation'. Print Edition | Subscribe