Zinedine Zidane has said he is “not contemplating” Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid on Friday before the end of the January transfer window.
Bale came close to joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last summer and English newspaper the Times reported on Friday the Welshman was in talks to rejoin his former club Tottenham.
But a source at Spurs has told AFP they are not in negotiations to sign Bale this month. Another source close to the player insisted earlier this week that “nothing has changed” and he would not be leaving Real Madrid in January.
Asked about the possibility of Bale being sold on Friday, Zidane said in a press conference: “Gareth is with us, I’m counting on him. I do not contemplate this possibility.”
Bale was left out of the squad to face Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, having completed only one full training session following an ankle injury.
Zidane would not say if he would return for the city derby against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
“I’m not going to tell you who is going to play,” Zidane said. “The players all have to be prepared.”
There was also a positive update regarding the fitness of Eden Hazard, who has recovered from his foot injury and could feature against Atletico.
“We’ll see but he has been training with us all week,” Zidane said. “He could be included tomorrow but we will never take any risks.”
Hazard has not played since fracturing his foot against Paris Saint-Germain on November 26.
Real Madrid face Atletico on the back of a 20-game unbeaten run. They sit top of La Liga, three points clear of Barcelona.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane defended Gareth Bale on Saturday after the Welshman picking up another injury and also said Eden Hazard is close to a return.
Bale will miss Madrid’s La Liga game against Real Valladolid on Sunday after he sprained his ankle during Madrid’s Copa del Rey win over Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday. Bale had opened the scoring in a 3-1 victory.
It is his third injury this season. Bale spent just over a month out before Christmas with calf and thigh problems.
He missed Real Madrid’s Spanish Super Cup triumph in Saudi Arabia through illness earlier this month and the game against Unionistas was his first match back.
“When he is available, which is the most important thing, he is fine,” Zidane said in a press conference on Saturday.
“The pity is that the other day he hurt his ankle and he is now unavailable.
“He is as unhappy about it as anyone, he would like to be with us, to train and play, but it’s a small thing. I hope to see him back with us on Monday.”
Bale’s relationship with Zidane has been tense in the past and he came close to leaving Real Madrid last summer, before a move to China fell through.
The 30-year-old is not expected to be sold mid-season but a departure could suit everyone in the summer.
Asked if he was tired of defending Bale, Zidane said: “The other day he scored. I will always defend my players. They are my players, they train every day, they fight for each other.
“There is a good dynamic, all the players are desperate to wear the badge of Real Madrid. They all have their own history but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It is true Gareth has had some injuries and you can’t do anything about that.
“You can think what you want but when I am with him, what he wants is to be available, to be with the team.”
Bale’s recovery could coincide with a return for Hazard, who has also endured an injury-interrupted season since his move from Chelsea last summer.
The Belgian sustained a fracture in his foot in November but has begun light training, meaning he could feature in the derby against Atletico Madrid on February 1.
“I cannot say when he will be back but he has started to touch the ball again,” Zidane said. “His progress is good, he no longer feels pain. Starting Monday, he will start working individually with more ballwork.”
Hazard missed almost a month at the start of the season with a hamstring strain before injuring his foot on November 26 against Paris Saint-Germain.
Real Madrid are unbeaten in 18 games and sit second in La Liga, behind Barcelona on goal difference.
Wales star Gareth Bale admitted he is relieved to be available to face Croatia in Sunday’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier after escaping a red card in Slovakia.
Bale had already been booked when he fouled Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw in Trnava on Thursday.
The Real Madrid forward could have been shown a red card that would have ruled him out of the Croatia clash in Cardiff.
But he was also hurt in the collision and spent a couple of minutes needing treatment before play resumed with no punishment.
“I’m fit and I’m fine, it was just a knock on the knee and a bit of ice has sorted that out,” Bale said on Saturday.
“I was more worried about getting sent off to be honest. I was just happy to get away with that one!
“But saying that, I didn’t think the first one deserved a yellow, so maybe it evened itself out.”
Bale’s second yellow card of Euro 2020 qualifying means another booking would see him suspended.
Wales, who trail Group E leaders Croatia by six points and are three adrift of second-placed Slovakia, with a game in hand on both, finish their campaign with November games against Azerbaijan and Hungary.
“I can’t make too many silly tackles, I have to be mindful of that,” Bale said.
“I don’t want to miss any games for Wales, especially at the crunch time of the group.
“So I have to be clever with what I’m doing, but maybe expect someone’s going to rile me to get me suspended.
“I’m experienced enough to get through the period without picking up another booking.”
Wales have failed to win in five previous encounters with Croatia and Bale would love to end that run against his Real team-mate Luka Modric.
“We know each quite well, as we’ve played together for a long time in Tottenham and Real Madrid, and it would be nice to get one over on him finally,” Bale said.
“We’ve not spoken yet, maybe there will be a little message later on.
“They’ve beaten us a few times in the past, but it’s always been a tight game between us.
“We know what a great team they are. They had a great World Cup and shown year after year how good they are.
“But playing at home gives us an advantage and we’ve had some great results against some big teams in our stadium.”
Wales will make a late decision on Aaron Ramsey’s fitness after the Juventus midfielder, who is yet to feature in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, missed the Slovakia game while he recovers from a thigh problem.
“We have not ruled Aaron out. He’s on a different schedule, he didn’t travel to Slovakia with the team and stayed back with the physio,” Wales manager Ryan Giggs said.
“So we’re just giving him all the time we can and (will) see how is in the morning (on Sunday).”
Zinedine Zidane promised changes but it was a retro Real Madrid that gave the revolution a winning start on Saturday as Gareth Bale led the way in a 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo.
Bale was back in the team and back in form at Balaidos, with Zidane’s eagerness to move him out this summer still perhaps in his mind as he teed up Karim Benzema’s opening goal.
Celta saw a potential equaliser chalked off before half-time. Then Real’s Luka Modric was sent off 11 minutes inti the second half but a stunning 30-yard shot from Toni Kroos put Madrid firmly back in control.
By the time Lucas Vazquez added a delicious third, at the end of a silky passing move, it was possible to wonder where this Madrid have been for the last 12 months, particularly as this starting line-up included not a single summer signing.
Zidane wanted Paul Pogba but it was Casemiro, Modric and Kroos in midfield, the same trio he picked for the Champions League final in 2018.
The coach also started Marcelo, arguably Madrid’s worst performer last term, and Bale. Only last month Zidane had said it would be “best for everyone” if the Welshman were sold.
Eden Hazard, who injured his thigh in training on Friday, will certainly start when he is fit again and there will be much tougher opponents than Celta, who finished 17th last season and were dead and buried before Iker Losada delivered a late consolation.
But, after a poor pre-season, Zidane needed a positive opening. This one was made all the sweeter by Barcelona’s defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.
Celta spent much of the match feeling aggrieved, no more so than after Benzema scored after just 12 minutes.
The home team claimed a foul by Casemiro in the build up. After that, Bale still had a lot to do, his dart one way and then the other freeing space for a drive towards the near post, where Benzema reacted fastest.
Early on, Bale was everywhere, blocking a cross in his own penalty area before being unleashed on the break, his rasping shot pushed away by Ruben Blanco.
Celta also had their moments. Gabriel Fernandez’s lunge was just short at the back post. Brais Mendez tapped in after the impressive Denis Suarez robbed Alvaro Odriozola and Iago Aspas made the final pass.
Aspas, however, had strayed offside as VAR spared Odriozola’s blushes. The referee, Javier Estrada, departed to a chorus of whistles at half-time.
Benzema and Aspas both spurned chances soon after the restart before Modric was sent off for an innocuous late challenge on the heel of Suarez. Estrada consulted the review and was left in no doubt.
Nestor Aruajo headed the ball straight at Thibaut Courtois but just as Madrid seemed about to give way, Kroos produced his thunderbolt from 30 yards, the ball cannoning down off the crossbar and in.
That knocked the stuffing out of Celta. They went three down when a brilliant team move, involving Isco, Benzema and Marcelo, found Vazquez free at the back post.
Bale had been replaced by Isco, exchanging a hand slap with Zidane as he went, before Losada prodded home in injury-time.
Gareth Bale’s unexpected reintegration at Real Madrid continued on Saturday when he was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up to play Celta Vigo.
Zinedine Zidane had been keen to sell Bale this summer but admitted on Friday that “things change” and he was now counting on the Welshman this season.
Bale was left out of the squad completely for three pre-season games but returned for the final friendly against Roma, coming off the bench in the second half.
An injury to Eden Hazard has opened a spot up front alongside Karim Benzema, and Zidane has chosen Bale ahead of the likes of Luka Jovic, Lucas Vazquez and Isco.
Bale was close to leaving in July but Madrid cancelled a deal with Chinese club Jiangsu Suning while the winger’s salary of around 18 million euros a year has proven too high for other interested clubs.
Bale reportedly prefers to stay at Madrid, where he has a contract until 2022, and is not interested in moving to Paris Saint-Germain, despite suggestions he could be included in a bid for Neymar.
“It looked like he was leaving and now he’s here with us, that’s it,” Zidane said.
“The dynamic changes and things change and now I’m going to count on him like everyone else. I said it a short time ago, I’m going to count on all the players that are here.”
Zidane had promised wholesale changes but none of the club’s five summer signings started against Celta.
Hazard and Ferland Mendy are both out injured while Jovic and Eder Militao were on the bench. Youngster Rodrygo is still gaining experience with the reserve team.
Gareth Bale’s stand-off with Real Madrid continued on Wednesday after the forward was left out of Zinedine Zidane’s squad to face Red Bull Salzburg in a friendly.
Bale has only played in two of Real Madrid’s five pre-season games so far, coming on as a substitute against Arsenal and Atletico Madrid, and has now been left out completely for the third fixture in a row.
James Rodriguez and Mariano Diaz, who are both expected to be sold, were also not included for the match in Austria.
Zidane has made clear that Bale is not in his plans as he looks to rejuvenate Real Madrid following their miserable season last term.
The club are keen to sign Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Ajax youngster Donny van de Beek potential alternatives.
But Madrid first need to raise funds, after already spending around 300 million euros ($336 million) this summer.
Zidane said last month that Bale being sold would be “best for everyone”, while Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told AFP: “Zidane is a disgrace – he shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid.”
Bale is in no rush to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, where he has a contract until 2022, worth around 18 million euros a year.
He agreed to terms with Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning last month but the move was called off after Madrid failed to agree to a fee for the 30-year-old.
Bayern Munich retain interest but any deal would be hugely expensive, making it increasingly likely Bale will remain at Madrid for the start of the La Liga season next weekend.