SportSoccer

Bale happy to hand over mantle of world's top player to Pogba

Pogba took over from Bale as the world's most expensive player
Pogba took over from Bale as the world's most expensive player

Gareth Bale says he is not bothered by losing the tag of the world's most expensive player to Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Bale's three-year reign as the most expensive player in football history ended when Pogba joined Manchester United from Juventus for £89million last month.

That fee eclipsed the £85.3m Real Madrid paid Tottenham to sign Wales forward Bale in the summer of 2013.

But Bale said: "I'm not fussed and I couldn't care less. None of the players have pulled my leg on it."

Bale was speaking at a UEFA Champions League gala dinner to launch the 'Road to Cardiff' with the 2017 final being held in his home city at what was known as the Millennium Stadium.

The 27-year-old would become only the sixth player to win the European Cup or Champions League in his home city should Madrid successfully defend the trophy they won for a record 11th time in May.

The previous five players to do so are Enrique Mateos (Real Madrid, 1957), Miguel Munoz (Real Madrid, 1957), Alex Stepney (Manchester United, 1968), Angelo di Livio (Juventus, 1996) and Nicolas Anelka (Real Madrid, 2000).

"We know the final is in Cardiff and it would be amazing to get there," said Bale, part of the Real side which beat Sevilla at the Cardiff City Stadium to win the 2014 Super Cup.

"I haven't been asked (about Cardiff) yet but the players have had experience of Wales and the weather from the Super Cup.

"I am sure if we get closer they will be asking."

Bale has won the Champions League twice in his three seasons at the Bernabeu.

And a third triumph would take him past fellow Welshmen Joey Jones, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs, who were part of two sides who became European champions.

Asked about claiming the record outright, Bale said: "That would be nice. I obviously have a better chance than them as I'm still playing.

"My aim is to win as many trophies as I can and as many Champions Leagues as I can. That will be the aim again this year.

"Everybody wants to beat Real Madrid, but we know we have a chance to make history again and we will be trying our best to do that.

"It is difficult winning the Champions League and not many people get to say they've won it.

"No matter what goes on in the transfer market you have to have a great season to win the Champions League.

"How much you spend doesn't make a difference, you have to perform on those nights."

Madrid were last week drawn in the same Champions League group as Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw.

And Bale is expecting a strong British challenge with Premier League champions Leicester joined by Arsenal, Manchester City and his old club Tottenham.

"It is great to see Tottenham back and doing well," said Bale. "I wish them well in the Champions League... until they play us!

"Man City came close last season, making the semi-final against us, and I see no reason why Leicester can't do well.

"I suppose the excitement and enthusiasm they will have for this tournament will make them even more difficult as opponents.

"Champions League means more games, so you don't know how it will pan out for them. But I am sure they will give a good account of themselves."