9. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – $32 million
Wales manager Rob Page hinted Gareth Bale may not be able to start three World Cup games in nine days on Wednesday as he named the 26-man squad he will take to Qatar.
Bale has been inspirational in leading his country to a first World Cup since 1958.
The 33-year-old came off the bench to score a dramatic late equaliser as LAFC went onto win the MLS Cup on penalties on Saturday.
But the five-time Champions League winner’s time on the field since moving to the USA in June has been limited by injuries.
“He is not 100 per cent at the moment,” said Page. “Has he played as many minutes as we’d like? Probably not. But that doesn’t worry me.
“He’s proved time and time again when he puts the Welsh jersey on, irrespective of how many minutes he’s played at domestic level, he’s always produced.
“On big occasions he’ll always turn up, thrive, and enjoy it. No question about that. He’ll have an effect on the game straight away and when opposing managers see his name on the team sheet they’ll know.”
Wales begin their tournament against the USA on November 21 before facing Iran and England in Group B.
When asked if Bale would be fit to start three games in quick succession, Page responded: “That’s the million dollar question. We don’t know.
“We’ll assess each game as it comes. We’ll have a plan moving forward for the second one. If he’s part of that great, if he’s not we’ll manage the minutes.”
Page has also given Joe Allen the chance to prove his fitness ahead of the tournament.
The Swansea midfielder played a vital role in Wales’ run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and last 16 of Euro 2020, but has not played since injuring a hamstring in September.
“We’re giving him every opportunity to be fit,” added Page.
“I phoned him a couple of days ago to tell him he was in the 26 just to take that pressure off him.
“If he’s fit, he’s playing. He’s massive for how I play and the success we’ve had.”
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Danny Ward (Leicester City/ENG), Adam Davies (Sheffield United/ENG)
Defenders: Ethan Ampadu (Spezia/ITA), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth/ENG), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town/ENG) Ben Davies (Tottenham/ENG), Chris Gunter (Wimbledon/ENG), Connor Roberts (Burnley/ENG), Joe Rodon (Rennes/FRA), Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Midfielders: Joe Allen (Swansea City), Aaron Ramsey (Nice/FRA), Harry Wilson (Fulham/ENG), Jonny Williams (Swindon Town/ENG), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth/ENG), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United/SCO), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City), Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Matt Smith (MK Dons/ENG)
Forwards: Gareth Bale (LAFC/USA), Daniel James (Fulham/ENG), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth/ENG), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Mark Harris (Cardiff City)
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