Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale insists gruelling football calendar 'has to change'

Krishan Davis
Bale is not happy with the amount of games top-level footballers must play
Bale is not happy with the amount of games top-level footballers must play / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

Gareth Bale has echoed Kevin De Bruyne's criticism of the Nations League scheduling ahead of facing the Belgian dynamo on Saturday night.

Wales and Belgium are midway through a marathon four-game international period which came straight off the back of the conclusion of the club campaign.

De Bruyne has been open in his dislike for the Nations League, which was introduced in 2019, labelling it 'just glorified friendlies' at a time when players should be resting their legs.

Speaking ahead of facing De Bruyne and his compatriots, Wales captain Bale sympathised with his counterpart and called for something to be done to correct the football calendar 'for player welfare'.

"Someone mentioned on the table at lunch that Kevin De Bruyne could play 79 games next season and have a three-week break," Bale said. "It is too much. Things obviously need to change.

"I think every player will tell you there are way too many games - it is impossible to play at a high level for that amount of games and there will be consequences in the long-term.

"People's bodies can't deal with that kind of calendar year after year. Something has to change. People at the top of the game have to do something but, unfortunately, money comes into it."

Bale continued: "For player welfare, money needs to be overlooked and you need to look after the players because without the players, there's no product."