Gareth Bale remains “the best of the rest” behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says Ryan Giggs, with the Real Madrid star capable of representing “any team in the world”.
The 28-year-old forward has endured another testing campaign at club level, with the fitness issues which have plagued him in recent times once again restricting his outings for Real.
Bale’s national team coach believes he remains a talismanic presence for club and country when on top of his game, with there few players in world football capable of operating at his level.
Giggs, who has already urged Wales’ star turn to remain at Real amid mounting exit talk, said in his Class of 92 diary for Sky Sports: “He's at a fantastic club, he's won three Champions League titles, so he's happy where he is.
“As a player, you're always battling for your place, no more so than at a big club where it isn't just about 11 players.
“But without a shadow of a doubt, when Gareth is flying he can get into any team in the world.
“He's among the top players in the world. There's Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and then there's the next tier of players and he's up there with the best of the rest.
“I think he's coming to a stage where you really know your body, where you know when you can train and when you have to take a down day. It isn't easy but you just have to manage yourself.
“I was 28 or 29 when I started to get to that stage in terms of having to listen to your body and Gareth has to do the same.”
Bale has managed more appearances for Real this season than he managed in 2016-17, but he has once again taken in regular spells on the sidelines.
It is that frustration for all concerned which has seen the former Tottenham man linked with a possible return to the Premier League this summer, with Manchester United and Chelsea reported to be leading the chase for his signature.