Zidane Confirms Bale’s Fitness For Copa Del Rey

 

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play against Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey. 

Bale was left out of the squad for Madrid’s win over Sevilla on Saturday and Zidane said after the match he had picked up a knock.

The Welshman trained with his teammates last week, after also missing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia through illness.

It means Bale has not played for Real Madrid since January 4, when he started their 3-0 win away Getafe. He has not scored for his club since September 1.

Asked why Bale and James Rodriguez, who has hardly featured in the last two months, have “disappeared”, Zidane said: “They haven’t disappeared. They were both injured the other day. They are both ready to play.”

Real Madrid play in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey against Unionistas de Salamanca, the fan-owned club launched in 2013 after UD Salamanca went out of business.

Unionistas, who now play in Spain’s third tier, have faced problems preparing for the tie given their stadium at Las Pistas del Helmantico can hold 3,000 spectators, with only one stand and insufficient lighting.

The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track.

“All the players have started playing on pitches like this, me as well,” said Zidane, when it was suggested the pitch could cause Real Madrid problems.

“We are prepared both mentally and in a sporting sense as well because we know where we are going to play and we know what to expect.

“Perhaps it was 10 or 15 years ago but we have all played on pitches like this, in difficult situations. It will not be a problem for us.”

Zidane is likely to rest key players, with a trip to Real Valladolid to come in La Liga on Sunday and the Madrid derby against Atletico scheduled for the following weekend.

AFP

‘Guardiola Best Coach In The World’

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola takes his seat for the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on December 18, 2019. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane insisted Saturday his key aim this season was to win La Liga with Real Madrid, but admitted they faced a thrilling challenge trying to outwit Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, who they meet in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Zidane, who has won three Champions Leagues as a coach compared to Guardiola’s two, described the Catalan as “the best coach in the world”.

The two sides meet in Madrid on February 26 before heading to Manchester for the second leg on March 17.

“It’ll be fabulous to play against him (Guardiola),” said Zidane, speaking ahead of Real’s game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, their final Liga match ahead of the winter break.

“I respected him as a player and now as a coach. He’s the top coach in the world and has proved it throughout his career.”

READ ALSO: Zidane Dismisses Speculation Over Bale’s Future At Real Madrid

Guardiola coached Barcelona to the 2009 and 2011 Champions League titles. He went on to win plaudits at Bayern Munich and City with domestic championships but has failed to land a third Champions League title.

“So it’ll be a pleasure for me and a pleasure for all of us to come up against him and his team,” said Zidane.

Real are currently level with Barcelona on 36 points on top of la Liga after their 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Athletic Bilbao are seventh, nine points behind.

“Bilbao is another rival and a different proposition. We will play them with all our energy, it’s the last game of the year.

“The league is our priority and we will fight for it all the way,” he said.

 

AFP

Real Madrid Not Thinking About Clasico, Says Zidane

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane looks on before the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Club Brugge and Real Madrid CF at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges on December 11, 2019. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane has brushed off suggestions Real Madrid could be distracted by the upcoming Clasico when they play in-form Valencia in La Liga on Sunday.

Madrid face a difficult game at Mestalla, just three days before taking on Barcelona at Camp Nou in a match that could decide who goes top of the table.

But Zidane’s team cannot afford to underestimate Valencia, who have registered three consecutive victories, including one away at Ajax on Tuesday that secured qualification for the Champions League last 16 as group winners.

Valencia sit eighth, while Barcelona and Madrid are level on points in first and second respectively.

Asked about the Clasico, Zidane said in a press conference on Saturday: “I’m not thinking about that at all and I include everyone who works here at the club in that.

“Our only concern is tomorrow’s game. The rest may be close but at the same time it’s far away. Tomorrow’s game has all my energy and about Wednesday, I’m not interested.”

After Barcelona, Real Madrid play at home to Athletic Bilbao, to complete a tough week before La Liga’s Christmas break.

Zidane admits it will be “difficult not to rotate” in the three fixtures and it remains to be seen whether Gareth Bale is given some minutes against Valencia, after he was left on the bench against Club Brugge on Wednesday.

Bale has just recovered from a thigh injury sustained earlier this month. “The other day Gareth didn’t play but he is here and I am counting on him,” Zidane said. “The important thing is he is available and ready.”

Zidane also has a dilemna over whether to select Casemiro against Valencia, given the Brazilian will be suspended for the game against Barca if he picks up a yellow card.

Madrid are short of other options in defensive midfield.

“I have to pick a starting line-up thinking only about tomorrow’s game – if I think about Wednesday, that would be a mistake,” said Zidane.

“I always talk with the players because I’m interested in the feelings they all have. And with Casemiro, it’s the same. We know his importance and what he gives to the team.”

Ferland Mendy is banned against Valencia and Marcelo is out with a calf injury, meaning Nacho Fernandez or Eder Militao are likely to fill in at left-back.

James Rodriguez trained alone on Saturday as he continues his recovery from a knee problem and will not be ready this weekend. Eden Hazard (ankle), Lucas Vazquez (toe) and Marco Asensio (cruciate ligament) are all out.

AFP

Zidane Bemoans Injuries After Bale Joins List Of Real Absentees

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale looks on before the UEFA Champions League group A football match against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 26, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane confirmed on Friday that Gareth Bale has not trained ahead of Real Madrid’s match against Espanyol as injury threatens to rule him out of this month’s Clasico.

Bale is struggling with a minor problem in his thigh although the club remain optimistic he will recover in time for the crunch game against Barcelona at Camp Nou on December 18.

“He did it in the match against Alaves,” said Zidane at a press conference before Saturday’s La Liga match.

“We’ve had a few days off but he has felt some discomfort. He hasn’t trained with us either today or this week.”

Bale has only recently shaken off a calf injury that kept him out for just over a month between October and November, and his latest setback adds to a worrying list of fitness concerns for Zidane.

Eden Hazard could be sidelined for more than a month after suffering a fracture in his ankle while Marcelo might also miss the game against Barcelona, after he sustained a calf strain in training.

Lucas Vazquez (toe), James Rodriguez (knee) and Marco Asensio (cruciate ligament) are also out.

“Injuries are a nightmare. Eden isn’t happy but it is what it is,” said Zidane. “We hope his injury is a little less serious than expected.

“I don’t know what we are going to do, I hope he will be back soon, Marcelo and Gareth the same. It is a major blow but we can’t do anything about it.

“There are other players and that is what we have to focus on. We have to maintain our momentum in the game tomorrow.”

Hazard had been getting closer to his exhilarating best in recent weeks, following a slow start at Madrid that was made more difficult by a thigh injury at the beginning of the season.

“He was playing very well, looked in great shape and showed his qualities as he has showed them before all over the world,” Zidane said. “It’s just a setback and I hope it won’t last long.”

Rodrygo and Isco could fill in up front either side of Karim Benzema while Ferland Mendy is likely to replace Marcelo at left-back.

Zidane was asked about Bale’s personal habits, following reports the 30-year-old will be banned from playing golf by Wales during Euro 2020 next summer.

“I can only tell you about Real Madrid and I’m not going to impose rules on Gareth or any other player,” Zidane said. “They’re old enough to know what to do.”

Real Madrid are second in La Liga, behind Barcelona only on goal difference. They have won six and drawn two of their last eight games in all competitions.

AFP

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

Criticism ‘Bothers Me’, Says Zidane

Zidane Downplays Reported Madrid's Move For Pogba
Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane/ AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane has admitted he feels irritated by the criticism of him as Real Madrid coach as his side prepare for their crunch Champions League game away at Galatasaray on Tuesday. 

Madrid head to Turkey in desperate need of a victory after one point taken from two games has left them sitting bottom of Group A and facing a fight to make the last 16.

A surprise league defeat by newly-promoted Real Mallorca on Saturday has put the pressure back on Zidane, who led Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphs in his first spell in charge at the club.

“Football forgets what you’ve done in the past, that’s life,” Zidane said at a press conference in Istanbul on Monday.

“And for me it’s the same, it’s all about the present. The past is the past.

“I’m not going to tell you that what they say doesn’t bother me because it bothers me but I can’t prevent people giving their opinions. This is a big game in a big stadium and we know the situation.”

Eden Hazard is available again after missing the game against Mallorca following the birth of his fourth child and Toni Kroos is also in the squad after recovering from injury.

But Gareth Bale and Luka Modric have not travelled as they are still suffering from calf and thigh problems respectively.

Some reports in Spain have even suggested Zidane could be sacked if Madrid fail to deliver on Tuesday.

“I don’t know, you have to ask other people about that,” Zidane said. “I want to be here forever but the situation can change.”

Despite their bumpy start, Madrid’s loss to Mallorca was their first in La Liga this season as they sit second in the table, one point behind Barcelona.

“Everyone knows that the squad is with Zidane to the death, no matter what,” said captain Sergio Ramos.

“We have to show we are a united team and one that continues to trust its coach. Madrid always responds and the way to do it is together.”

Jose Mourinho has again been mentioned as a potential successor to Zidane.

“We only think about winning tomorrow, nothing else and not what certain people claim,” Ramos said. “It is true the measuring stick is sometimes different depending on what it measures.”

Ramos added: “It would be easy to say Zidane will stay until the end of the season and there would be no arguments. I know that rumours are interesting for the press but talking about possible coaches is tedious.”

Zidane said nothing surprises him about the pressure he is under. “It’s always like that,” he said. “I’ve spent 18 years here and the same thing happened to me as a player.

“I know where we are and that there is going to be pressure. The only thing is to prepare for the game but whatever happens tomorrow is not going to change anything.”

Galatasaray also have one point in the group after they drew away at Club Brugge and lost at home to Paris Saint-Germain.

AFP

Zidane To Resign If He Loses Real Madrid Support

Zidane Downplays Reported Madrid's Move For Pogba
Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane attends the Spanish League football match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at the Vallecas Stadium in the Madrid district of Puente de Vallecas on April 28, 2019. Benjamin CREMEL / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane believes he has the backing of Real Madrid but admits he would leave if he ever felt he had lost the club’s support. 

Zidane has come under scrutiny after enduring his worst ever defeat as Madrid coach on Wednesday, a 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

The result also followed an underwhelming start in La Liga, which has seen Madrid claim two wins and two draws from games against Celta Vigo, Real Valladolid, Villarreal and Levante.

After returning from Paris, Zidane gave his players the day off on Thursday, which surprised those high up at the club, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Asked if he felt like his methods were being questioned, Zidane said in a press conference on Friday: “No, not at all, the opposite. I think the club helps us all to be strong and supports all the people that work here.

“If it’s ever not like that it would probably be best to leave.”

On his decision to give the players a day off, Zidane added: “It’s not a question of whether they deserve it or not. We have to give them time off.

“They need time with their families, they have to be able to rest. We have seven games in 21 days. They need time away and I understand that.”

Madrid face La Liga’s early frontrunners Sevilla on Sunday, when Zidane will be hoping for a response after his side’s miserable performance in midweek.

Since Zidane returned as coach in March, Madrid have won seven, drawn four and lost five of their matches in all competitions.

Asked if he regrets coming back, Zidane said: “No, that’s easy to answer. It would be easy to say yes in what is a difficult time but it wouldn’t be true. I’m happy to be back and to start again.

“It’s a difficult time at the moment but all I’m going to do is work harder and try to put things right. We all have to try to be together, united.

“When I hear all these questions, it makes everything seem gloomy but when you win everything changes. Things look ugly at the moment but you have to keep working.”

Jose Mourinho is the favourite to succeed Zidane and the Portugese has hardly kept a low-profile in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Mourinho attended a press event in Madrid, where he said his time at the Santiago Bernabeu had been his “best experience” as a coach.

“I know how it works,” Zidane said. “It’s not about whether it bothers me or doesn’t bother me. If you lose, things have to change. Things are difficult now but that’s the reality.”

Zidane is boosted by the return of midfielder Fede Valverde for Sunday’s game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium but Luka Modric and Isco are out with thigh and hamstring injuries respectively, while Marcelo has a back problem. Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.

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

Judgement Day For Real Madrid As Zidane’s Second Coming Begins

Zinedine Zidane                                                                                                          GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane returned to save Real Madrid and the time has come for results. 

In a packed-out press conference under the Santiago Bernabeu in March, the club’s president Florentino Perez delivered the grandest of re-introductions.

“We need to start working on a glorious new era,” said Perez. “That is why we welcome back Zinedine Zidane.”

Some might have expected a bounce but nobody blamed the coach when performances continued to drag and the gap behind Barcelona, rather than narrowing, widened.

Zidane took over a team with nothing to play for and a squad he knew was in need of reform. He knew because he had left it nine months earlier, just before it was broken.

There was no quick fix. In his 11 games at the end of last season, Madrid won five, the only promise of progress the words Zidane kept repeating. “Things will change, for sure,” he said.

Zidane denied it but they were seen as trials, every line-up scanned for clues as to who would survive the summer.

Yet in some ways, none of it mattered and the results, not to mention attendances at the Santiago Bernabeu, said as much. “The best thing for us is that it’s over,” said Zidane, after the season ended in defeat.

And now it begins again, the season, and Zidane’s second era as a coach.

Many wondered why he came back, risking everything after the perfection of three Champions League titles out of three.

The assumption was he returned to a stronger hand, able to make demands the club were ready to meet and with the backing to rebuild in the way he had always wanted.

He might have been encouraged too when Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard all signed for a total close to 300 million euros.

Hazard was the headline act, a throw-back to a previous era that Zidane knew well when the world’s most glamorous players seemed to walk through the doors every year.

“I’m not a galactico, not yet, but I hope I will be one day,” said Hazard when he joined.

 Bale stalemate 

But Madrid’s pockets are not as deep as they once were and sales were also needed, by the club and their coach.

Zidane showed no inclination to make soothe and use Gareth Bale, instead urging the Welshman to make a move to China.

“It is very close,” Zidane said. “We hope he leaves soon, it would be best for everyone.”

Bale’s agent told AFP Zidane was a “disgrace” and if the Frenchman had hoped to push the deal over the line, he would be disappointed as Madrid changed their mind over the fee.

James Rodriguez is also yet to leave and there were others that proved more difficult to bring in such as Paul Pogba and even Neymar.

In other areas, Zidane has resisted change, backing experience over youth even if many believed experience last season had turned into apathy.

Marcelo, Casemiro and Keylor Navas have stayed while Marcos Llorente was allowed to join Atletico Madrid and Sergio Reguilon and Dani Ceballos were both sent out on loan.

For all the talk of upheaval, Madrid’s line-up against Celta Vigo on Saturday is likely to have a distinctly familiar feel.

Yet there could be a new formation, with a 3-5-2 tried after some underwhelming showings in pre-season, allowing Marcelo and Dani Carvajal greater freedom as wing-backs and Hazard to play centrally behind Karim Benzema.

And a shift in focus. Madrid have won La Liga only once in the last seven years, their failures in Spain excused only by unprecedented success in Europe.

“For us next year, the league must be our number one priority,” Zidane said in April.

In that sense, Madrid might profit if Barcelona aim their focus at the Champions League. But the Catalans and Atletico Madrid have both strengthened and look ready to challenge again.

“La Liga is the longest competition, it’s the one that cannot be missed,” Zidane said. “I’m going to drill that in the heads of my players.” His players. Now they have to deliver.

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

Zidane Downplays Reported Madrid’s Move For Pogba

Zidane Downplays Reported Madrid's Move For Pogba
(File) Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane attends the Spanish League football match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at the Vallecas Stadium in the Madrid district of Puente de Vallecas on April 28, 2019. Benjamin CREMEL / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane has played down speculation linking Real Madrid with a summer move for Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Zidane said in March he knew Pogba personally and likes him “a lot” before adding Madrid could be his next club “when his experience in Manchester comes to an end”.

Pogba had also added to the doubts surrounding his future by saying that “all players dream of playing for Real Madrid”.

READ ALSO: Bournemouth Beat Nine-Man Tottenham After Ake’s Late Strike

But ahead of his team’s La Liga game at home to Villarreal on Sunday, Zidane appeared to downplay the chances of Pogba moving to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I said Pogba was a good player but I could say the same about other players,” Zidane said at a press conference on Saturday.

“I know him but nothing more. If you ask me about Pogba, I say he is a very good player but he plays for Manchester United.

“At the end of the season we will see which players come here, and who leaves, but I did not say ‘We are going to sign Pogba,’ nothing like that.

“I will not say anything until the deals are done.”

Madrid sit third in La Liga, 18 points behind champions Barcelona and with little hope of catching Atletico Madrid in second.

Zidane’s team have delivered a series of underwhelming performances, most recently in a 0-0 draw with Getafe and 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano.

“I was very angry the other day, so were the players, they didn’t enjoy it either,” Zidane said. “Sometimes nothing goes your way.”

Madrid fans have vented their frustration towards a number of players, in particular, Gareth Bale, but Zidane said supporters cannot assume anyone will leave.

“The season is what it is but the fans must think about next season. There will be changes but many of these players will stay,” he said.

“The fans will be the same, and most of the players too so we must stick together.

“We are going to have time to prepare for next season. Until August 31 anything can happen, so it will be a long summer.”

Vinicius Junior has been one of the few positives to come from Madrid’s season and he could return against Villarreal after two months out with a hamstring injury.

“Vinicius is training much better and ready to be in the squad,” Zidane said.

“He is very good, he is an important player for this team and the future. He is 18 years old and we have to be patient.

“But he deserves to be here and next year, we will see how we can make the best of him.”

AFP