Bale Returns To Real Squad, To Miss Betis Clash

A file photo of Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

Zinedine Zidane said on Friday Gareth Bale has resumed light training but will not be available for Real Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Real Betis. 

Madrid can register their third consecutive victory by beating struggling Betis on Saturday but Bale remains on the sidelines, as he continues his recovery from a calf problem.

Bale caused a stir this week by taking the day off on Monday to meet his agent in London, prompting reports in Spain he was discussing a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in January.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

But Zidane has insisted Bale had permission to be absent from the club and he is now back in training.

The Welshman was not with the rest of the squad for Friday’s early session but did some running alone with a team physio.

“He is here with us, he is training and working hard,” said Zidane in a press conference on Friday.

“He is back from his trip and he is getting better. He is not available yet but he is recovering bit by bit.

“It seems we should bring him out here to speak to you because I don’t know anything more.”

Real Madrid sit second in La Liga, a point behind Barcelona and one ahead of Atletico Madrid and surprise high-fliers Granada, both of whom have played a game more.

James Rodriguez returned to Madrid on Friday from Colombia after the birth of his second child, but he is not expected to be involved this weekend.

Centre-back Nacho is struggling with a knee problem and Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.

AFP

Zidane Dismisses Speculation Over Bale’s Future At Real Madrid

 

Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale was given permission by Real Madrid to travel to London on Monday, and claims the Welshman never talks about leaving the club. 

Bale has not played since injuring his calf during a game for Wales on October 13 and his trip to England has prompted speculation he will seek an exit from Madrid in January.

But Zidane insists Bale had permission to be absent on Monday and Tuesday morning and that he is not aware the 30-year-old wants to be sold.

“It was a personal issue and he had permission yesterday to go,” Zidane said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“It was a personal issue and he went, that’s it, no story. He also went because he’s not available to play.

“But I don’t think he ever speaks about leaving. When he is available he plays, that’s all there is to it.”

Bale came close to a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last summer after Zidane said it would be “best for everyone” if he left Real Madrid.

But the deal fell through at the last minute due to a disagreement over the transfer fee and Zidane is not expecting any fresh offers in January.

 Unimpressed 

“I don’t think there will be an offer and I haven’t thought about it either. Gareth is a Real Madrid player,” said Zidane.

“What happened in the summer was the situation at the time and in the end Gareth stayed and all the better for everyone.

“It’s true what was said didn’t help but for me the result is the most important thing. He’s an important player and it’s important he plays and he plays well.

“If in January he says he’ll stay, there will be talk about the transfer window in the summer. Unfortunately people will always speak about these things but he’s here and everyone is happy he’s here.”

Zidane claimed he has a “good relationship” with Bale but sources have told AFP the forward remains on bad terms with the Frenchman.

Bale was particularly unimpressed by his omission from Madrid’s squad to face Club Brugge in the Champions League earlier this month.

After the match, Zidane put his absence down to a fitness issue but those close to Bale insist he was fully fit.

“I spoke to him and I spoke to James (Rodriguez). Both of them weren’t available to play against Brugge and they didn’t play,” said Zidane. “There’s nothing else to say about that.”

Bale will miss Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Leganes on Wednesday, along with Nacho, who has a knee problem, and Marco Asensio, who is recovering from a anterior cruciate ligament injury.

James Rodriguez is also unlikely to be involved as he missed training on Tuesday due to the birth of his child.

Real Madrid are sixth in the table but only two points off the top, with a game in hand.

AFP

Euro 2020 Qualifier: Wales Star Bale Set For Croatia Clash

Wales’ forward Gareth Bale poses before the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Slovakia and Wales in Trnava on October 10, 2019. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

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).”

AFP

Bale Eyes Wales After Real Madrid Uncertainty

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale attends a training session at the Ciudad Real Madrid training ground in Valdebebas, near Madrid, on August 31, 2019, ahead of their Spanish League football match against Villarreal. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Gareth Bale says he feels more settled after a turbulent period at Real Madrid and is “raring to go” as Wales prepare to take on Azerbaijan in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Friday.

Bale looked set to leave Real in a big-money move to China in the transfer window, only for the Spanish giants to pull the plug at the last moment.

The 30-year-old ended a scoring drought stretching back to March with two goals in the 2-2 La Liga draw at Villarreal on Sunday but was sent off in stoppage time.

“The transfer window has closed,” Bale said on Thursday. “I don’t think mentally it affected me but I had not played for four to six weeks.

“It was nice to be back on the scoresheet (for Real Madrid) and now I am fit and raring to go.”

READ ALSO: Zambia Cancel International Friendly With South Africa

Real teammate Thibaut Courtois suggested in an interview earlier this year that Bale was often isolated from the rest of the squad and was called the “golfer” due to his passion for the sport.

But Bale said he was happy with the moniker, adding: “I am a golfer. People make a lot of it, but I enjoy it and it keeps me calmer on the pitch.”

The Wales forward said not being picked by Harry Redknapp at Spurs “for a year” was a harder time in his career.

“I just kept my head down and worked hard in training,” he said. “If you want answers you maybe need to ask Real Madrid.”

Wales trail group leaders Hungary by six points, with a game in hand, and are three points adrift of Croatia and Slovakia in the race for a top-two spot.

Wales boss Ryan Giggs was pleased with Bale’s contribution on Sunday and said: “When he scores he tends to get on a roll.”

Giggs revealed that Ben Woodburn is likely to be missing against Azerbaijan due to illness but confirmed that the rest of his squad are fit and available, including Daniel James.

Manchester United’s new signing from Swansea has scored three goals in four appearances for the club so far this season.

Former United winger Giggs has not been surprised by James’s start to life at Old Trafford.

“He’s at the right club — a club which loves wingers,” Giggs said. “We’ve all seen what he’s capable of in the last eight or nine months and he’s going to get better and better.”

AFP

Zidane Asks Bale To Show Why He Is One Of World Best Players

Zinedine Zidane has challenged Gareth Bale to show why he is still one of the world’s best players as he continues his reintegration at Real Madrid. 

Bale, 30, was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up against Celta Vigo last weekend, when Madrid opened with an impressive 3-1 win in La Liga and Bale was arguably man of the match.

Zidane said in July it would be “best for everyone” if Bale left Madrid this summer but the Welshman has been eager to stay and appears to be regaining the confidence of his coach.

“What has changed is that the player is going to stay, nothing more,” Zidane said in a press conference on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s game at home to Real Valladolid.

“The important thing is the player wants to stay. It’s true that a lot was said about him, by me as well, but he is going to stay.

“He is a great player, he has shown that before and he has to show it again. He has to be the player we know that he is.”

Bale’s start in Vigo came after Eden Hazard sustained a thigh injury in training and it remains to be seen if he can keep his place when the Belgian returns after the international break.

“Bale played well the other day, a great match overall but also his level defensively was very high,” said Zidane.

“He worked hard and we have to continue in this way, Gareth, everyone, they are all going to be important.”

 ‘Can’t wait for September 2’

The transfer window in Spain does not close until September 2 and Zidane was asked about the future of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, as well as Real Madrid’s pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar.

Barcelona and Madrid are both chasing Neymar but neither have agreed a deal with PSG, who reportedly set Barca a deadline of Friday to present a suitable offer.

“The players I have are the ones that are here. Everything else, anything can happen until September 2. Some can arrive, some can go,” Zidane said.

“For that reason I can’t wait for September 2 so you won’t ask me about this anymore.”

Navas has lost out to Thibaut Courtois in the battle for the number one goalkeeper spot and the Costa Rican is believed to be seeking a move before the window closes.

“He has not told me he wants to leave,” Zidane said. “I am not contemplating him leaving, not at all. “He is here, he wants to be here and he is working in that way. He has always been professional.”

AFP

Bale Starts As Madrid Beat Celta 3-1

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates including Gareth Bale, Marcelo, and Luka Modric after scoring the opening goal in their clash against Celta Vigo in Vigo on August 17, 2019. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

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.

AFP

Bale Starts Madrid’s Opener Against Celta

Bale had been expected to leave Real Madrid this summer.  File photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

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.

AFP

Zidane Snubs Bale Again For Madrid Friendly

Zinedine Zidane                                                                                                          Gareth Bale

 

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.

READ ALSO: Schalke Suspend Chairman Over Racist Comment

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.

AFP

Bale Left Out Of Real Madrid Squad For Munich Friendlies

Gareth Bale’s future at Real Madrid took another twist when he was left out of the Spanish side’s squad for two friendly matches in Munich, starting with Tuesday’s game against his old club Tottenham Hotspur.

“Bale did not travel in order to resolve his future,” Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Tuesday, adding that Real Madrid were still in talks with Chinese side Jiangsu Suning who had offered the Welshman a three-year-deal worth £1 million ($1.1 million) a week.

However, the Chinese club appear to have shut the door on Bale and sports daily As says he could be headed for a Premier League return.

“Bale wanted to stay (at Real Madrid) but Zidane has made that impossible,” said As.

“The preferred destination for Bale is the Premier League which closes its transfer window on August 8. There are only 10 days to find a team there.”

Real Madrid held up the proposed transfer to Jiangsu Suning on Sunday in a dispute over the fee and the Chinese club announced Monday they had signed Croatian striker Ivan Santini from Anderlecht instead.

Bale, 30, has been at the centre of transfer talk since Zinedine Zidane returned as coach of Real in March.

The Frenchman has made no secret of his desire to offload Bale who joined Real Madrid in a then world record £85 million move from Tottenham in 2013.

The Spanish press has been mooting a possible return to Champions League finalists Tottenham although Bale’s salary demands are likely to be far beyond the pay structure at the north London club.

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has already insisted that any deal which sees the Welshman leave the Bernabeu would have to be a permanent one and not one that sees him shipped out on loan.

“Gareth is one of the best players on the planet. I can guarantee you he will not be going on loan to any club,” said Barnett.

Bale was not the only familiar name missing from the 24-man squad for Munich. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who shipped seven goals last week against Atletico Madrid, is injured while James Rodriguez came back late from holiday after playing for Colombia in the Copa America.

Following the Spurs match, Real will face either Fenerbahce or Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

AFP

Real Madrid Block Bale China Move

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale looks on during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and SD Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Gareth Bale’s move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning has been cancelled by Real Madrid, a source close to Wales forward told AFP on Sunday. 

Bale, 30, who has been in the Spanish capital since 2013, was expected to join the Chinese Super League outfit on a three-year-deal worth £1 million ($1.1 million) a week.

The 77-time international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans at the Bernabeu.

READ ALSO: Max Verstappen Wins Chaotic German Grand Prix

The former Tottenham Hotspur winger came off the bench to play half an hour in Real’s record 7-3 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said the player’s family had blocked a potential move to Asia.

Marca said those close to Bale had asked his representatives to look for clubs in Europe “before definitively saying yes to Jiangsu Suning’s offer”.

The Chinese transfer window closes on Wednesday.

AFP

Bale ‘Won’t Be Leaving’ Real Madrid On Loan, Says Agent

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale eyes the ball.                            CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

Gareth Bale will not be leaving Real Madrid on loan during the transfer window despite falling out of favour under Zinedine Zidane, his agent said on Tuesday.

The Real boss said at the weekend the La Liga giants were poised to offload the 30-year-old Wales star.

But his representative, Jonathan Barnett, told Sky Sports News any deal would have to be a permanent one.

“There will be no makeshift deals to get him out of the club,” said Barnett, who said previously that Zidane has shown “no respect” for Bale’s achievements at Real.

“Gareth is one of the best players on the planet. I can guarantee you he will not be going on loan to any club.”

READ ALSO: Cristiano Ronaldo Will Not Face Rape Charges In Nevada

Bale has been deemed surplus to requirements at Real despite helping his side to a Spanish title and four Champions League crowns since arriving from Tottenham Hotspur six years ago.

His brace, including a brilliant bicycle kick, sank Liverpool in 2018 final but he was not used as a regular starter by Zidane after the Frenchman returned to the Real bench in early March.

“Gareth is a Real Madrid player and for now he’s staying as a Real Madrid player,” said Barnett.

“If something comes along that suits us, then things could change and he could be gone in a day or a week. Or he could still be a Real player in three years when his contract ends.”

Real are playing Arsenal in a friendly on Tuesday at the FedExField — home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

AFP

Zidane Vague On Bale’s Future After Eibar Win

Zidane Vague On Bale's Future After Eibar Win
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and SD Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 6, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane refused to guarantee Gareth Bale’s future at Real Madrid after the Welshman struggled again in a 2-1 victory over Eibar on Saturday.

Karim Benzema scored twice at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid came from behind after Marc Cardona, starting only after an injury to Pedro Leon in the warm-up, gave Eibar a surprise lead.

But Madrid improved and a pair of Benzema headers ensured the groans and whistles that had soured the atmosphere for much of the opening hour turned to cheers and applause at the end.

Much of the frustration was again directed at Bale, who started here after being dropped by Zidane for the defeat to Valencia on Wednesday.

Asked afterwards if Bale would be at Real Madrid next season, Zidane said: “We’ll see, I’m not going to tell you what’s going to happen. Gareth is a Real Madrid player, he has two years left on his contract. We will see. It is not the time to talk about this.”

Bale’s below-par performances and a lack of support from either coach or fans seem so inter-linked now, it is difficult to know what comes first. He departed again to whistles with 14 minutes left, a conciliatory hand slap from Zidane offering little consolation as he trudged off.

Benzema’s trajectory has been the opposite, the Frenchman now with six goals in five La Liga games, four of them since Zidane took over.

“Karim has had a great season,” Zidane said. “His goals have perhaps changed people’s perception of him. But he has never changed as a player.”

Madrid’s win means they are 10 points adrift of leaders Barcelona and two behind Atletico Madrid. Barca and Atletico play each other later on Saturday. Eibar stay 11th.

Zidane has insisted his players are not on trial but his changing line-ups at least suggest he is examining his options before the summer.

This time Sergio Ramos was rested, while Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez also dropped out. In came Nacho, Federico Valverde, Isco and Bale.

Bale’s half began badly as he failed to control Valverde’s overhit pass and then got worse as he missed a one-on-one when his finish was saved by Marko Dmitrovic.

— Chorus of whistles —

The scattering of whistles became a chorus after he dragged a shot wide from 25 yards and it was no surprise his confidence drained away, a poor touch following shortly after.

Bale was not the only one. Madrid lacked precision or purpose, as opponents were allowed through unchecked and passes went astray.

In the 39th minute, as the fans’ frustration was reaching its peak, Eibar scored, a crisp move down the left ending with a cute pass from Gonzalo Escalante to Cardona, who chipped into the net.

The second half started better for Madrid, with Benzema scoring only to be called back for offside before the Frenchman headed in the equaliser just before the hour. Marco Asensio did brilliantly to weave into space and dig out the cross.

Bale might have been in but Asensio’s pass struck the back of his heel and the Welshman departed with 14 minutes left, to disgruntled whistles.

Madrid scored the winner without him. Kroos’ whipped cross was again met by the forehead of Benzema and, again, the ball found the net.

Benzema should have completed his hat-trick late on but one finish was palmed away by Dmitrovic and another, with the goal gaping, looped over. He even hit the post with a bending effort in injury-time. The treble was not to be.