Wales winger Gareth Bale joins Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the leading contenders for *FIFA's Ballon d'Or award. *The 23-man shortlist for the prestigious world player of the year award was today, with the winner to be unveiled on January 13 in Zurich.
Barcelona forward Messi has won the award for the last four years, with Bale's Madrid team-mate Ronaldo consistently his nearest challenger.
Meanwhile Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has called for patience as fans wait to see the best of Bale following his record-breaking summer move.
Bale has yet to set the Primera Division alight following his 100million euros transfer from Tottenham and, with the Wales forward battling to return to full fitness, he is also still to complete a whole match for his new club.
He was named in the starting line-up for Saturday's Clasico against Barcelona but was replaced an hour into the 2-1 loss.
"In the last few games he hasn't done extraordinary things, but a player who arrives at a new team, in a new culture, needs time to adapt," said Ancelotti.
"The problem the player has is of adaptation. It's not the same to play in Spain as in England."
Ancelotti also laughed off any suggestion that Bale's price tag had an influence on his decision to start him against Barca.
Watch Gareth Bale shock teammates with his rugby skills at a Real Madrid training session. The team try out a rugby ball as part of their session ahead of their weekend game. The video comes courtesy of bwinbetting.com.
Real Madrid may have paid Gareth Bale a world-record transfer fee for his football skills but it seems the Welsh man couldn't resist showing off a few homegrown talents to his teammates during training - with a rugby ball.
Ahead of his debut appearance in this Saturday’s Clásico with Barcelona, Bale Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Jesé Rodríguez demonstrated their skills with a variety of different balls.
But Bale produced a performance in an impromptu crossbar challenge which left his new team mates visibly astonished.
Following an instruction from Modric, Bale nails a crunching Rugby ball volley to knock a drinks bottle off the frame of the goal and then follows it up with a long-distance drop-goal that would have made a Wales squad member blush.
The world's most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale, has won the Wales Footballer of the Year award for the third time in four seasons.
The £85m Real Madrid star was also given the Fans' Player of the Year award at the Football Association of Wales ceremony last night.
20-year-old Swansea full back Ben Davies won the Wales Young Player of the Year award.
His club captain Ashley Williams picked up the Club Player of the Year award.
Wales manager Chris Coleman has revealed that Gareth Bale will not play a part against Macedonia or Belgium, despite naming him in his squad for the final two World Cup qualifiers later this month.
Bale has endured a frustrating start to his time at Real Madrid, and missed the Spanish's club Champions League match last night with a thigh injury.
Coleman said: "We have spoken to the doctor and we will be without him, but we said all along it is very tough for him to have had no pre-season and be thrown in at the deep end."
Wales captain Ashley Williams has also been named in the squad, despite his club manager at Swansea City, Michael Laudrup, warning that Williams needs a break as he is struggling with injury.
Wales face Macedonia at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday 11 October, and Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday 15 October.
They can no longer qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next summer, but manager Chris Coleman has emphasised the importance of a strong finish, to improve Wales' seeding for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
The full squad:
- Wayne Hennessey, Glyn Myhill, Owain Fon Williams
- Ben Davies, Danny Gabbidon, Chris Gunter, Adam Matthews, Samuel Ricketts, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams
- Joe Allen, Jack Collison, Andrew Crofts, Declan John, Andy King, Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey, David Vaughan
- Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy, Simon Church, Hal Robson-Kanu, Sam Vokes
Gareth Bale has been named in Wales' squad for their final World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium, despite his new club Real Madrid announcing that he has a thigh injury.
The 24-year-old, who became the world's most expensive player when he moved from Tottenham to the Spanish giants for £80m this summer, missed Madrid's Champions League match against FC Copenhagen last night - having been diagnosed with a muscle contracture in his left thigh.
There was no confirmation on how long the problem would sideline him for, but it was thought to be several weeks, and his inclusion in Chris Coleman's 23-man squad comes as a surprise.
Gareth Bale has been included in the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium, the Football Association of Wales has confirmed, despite missing Real Madrid's game against FC Copenhagen on Wednesday night because of injury. 031106 OCT 13
Gareth Bale is a doubt for Wales' final two World Cup qualifiers later this month, after being ruled out of Real Madrid's Champions League match tonight.
Madrid confirmed he was struggling with a thigh problem and would undergo tests today, as he is not involved against FC Copenhagen.
He played for his new club in a 1-0 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday, having missed last Wednesday's trip to Elche with "muscle fatigue" in the same thigh. He had pulled out of their previous game after tweaking his thigh in the warm-up.
Wales face Macedonia next Friday at the Cardiff City Stadium, and are away against Belgium the following Tuesday. Their chances of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil next summer have long been extinguished.
Gareth Bale said he was "proud" to have scored in his first game for Real Madrid.
The Wales forward admitted he was "disappointed" with a 2-2 draw away at Villarreal, which leaves Real two points behind early pace-setters Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga.
Proud to score on my debut and pleased to get 60 minutes tonight, just disappointed not to get the result. Looking forward to Tuesday now.
There was plenty of support from back home on Twitter - Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe quick to congratulate Bale on his debut goal, and encouragement too from Michael Owen, who spent a season playing for Real Madrid.
Wales star Gareth Bale scored on his debut for Real Madrid last night.
The 24-year-old, who became the world's most expensive player when he joined the Spanish giants for £85m from Spurs a fortnight ago, was handed his first start for Madrid against La Liga rivals Villarreal - and began to pay some of that transfer fee back with a first-half goal.
Bale poked the ball in from close range after a cross from Daniel Carvajal to equalise for Madrid just before half-time.
He went close with a shot from outside the area early in the second half, but was withdrawn after 62 minutes, as he is still not fully fit.
The game finished 2-2.