Wales manager Coleman hopes Gareth Bale stays in Spain

Gareth Bale and Chris Coleman
Gareth Bale has scored 17 goals in 50 appearances for Wales

Wales manager Chris Coleman hopes Gareth Bale stays in Real Madrid rather than return to the Premier League.

The 26-year-old forward has been linked with a move to Manchester United from the Bernabeu Stadium.

Coleman is in St Petersburg, Russia, for the World Cup 2018 qualifying draw, and said he felt La Liga suited the Welshman better than the "unforgiving" Premier League.

"Speaking selfishly, I hope he stays in Madrid," he told Sky Sport News.

"La Liga has real quality, but the physicality is different.

"The Premier League is the most unforgiving league in the world and players get weary in the second half of the season.

"Gareth is not as fatigued coming back to us - particularly in February and March - as he would be if he was playing in the Premier.

"I've not talked to him about it, and whatever he wants to do he'll get out [Wales's] 100% backing."

2018 World Cup draw seedings

The draw for the qualifying stages of the World Cup takes place at 16:00 BST on Saturday, with Wales among the top seeds after rising to 10th-place in the Fifa world rankings.

Cardiff-born Bale has been the key player in Wales's improvement, scoring five goals in six matches to help Coleman's team to the top of Group B in Euro 2016 qualifying.

His international form has not wavered, in spite of some criticism of his play in Spain.

Bale's world-record £85m transfer from Tottenham in 2013 was followed by a successful first season at Real where he scored goals in the finals of the European Champions League and Copa del Rey.

But he struggled to recapture that form last season.

However, former Italy World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro believes Bale will get better at Madrid.

"He's a great player," said Cannavaro, who led Italy to World Cup victory in 2006.

"He's starting to know the Spanish League because I think he found it a little bit different. But this season I think he can improve more."

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