Ryan Giggs has warned Liverpool that Gareth Bale is ready to make the difference in the Champions League final.
Bale is not certain to start for Real Madrid in Saturday’s showdown in Kiev, despite scoring five goals in four LaLiga games for the reigning European champions.
But Wales manager Giggs believes the 28-year-old has the right mindset to make a decisive contribution from the bench – if that is the role given to him by Real manager Zinedine Zidane.
“Every time Gareth plays he makes an impact,” Giggs said. “It just shows the professional he is that he’s not sulking (when he’s a substitute) as he always seems to come on and score. He’s one of the best players in the world and every time he comes on to that pitch he makes a difference.
“Again that’s a credit to his professionalism, his hunger and desire to get in the team for that final.
“He will be thinking if he starts in the Champions League, great. But if he doesn’t, then he’s ready to score that winner anyway.”
If Real win a 13th European title, Bale would equal the record of Champions League/European Cup wins by a British player.
Former Liverpool defender Phil Neal holds the record with four victories, and Bale would match that tally after five seasons in Madrid.
Despite having his critics in Spain, Bale has still managed to score 19 goals this season in an injury-hit campaign.
“Gareth always had potential, but he’s gone on to pass that potential,” Giggs said. “He’s been playing at a top club for a long time when brilliant players have notoriously not lasted very long.
“He has been a huge success for club and country and one of the best British players to have gone abroad because of what he’s achieved.”
With Wales players Danny Ward and Ben Woodburn in the Liverpool squad, Giggs “will try to remain neutral” over the outcome.
But, as Manchester United’s record appearances holder and a former assistant manager at Old Trafford, he admits it is hard to see Liverpool only 90 minutes away from being European champions.
“As a United fan, and playing for United for so long, it is difficult,” Giggs added. “They are our main rivals for a reason – they’ve got great history, they’re a brilliant club and it’s hard for a United fan to take.”