Zinedine Zidane reiterated his insistence that James Rodriguez will not be leaving Real Madrid before the end of the transfer window.
The Colombia international has seen his first-team opportunities limited since Zidane arrived as head coach at the Santiago Bernabeu in January.
Speculation has consequently mounted that Premier League duo Chelsea and Arsenal are interested in prising him away from the Spanish capital, while Serie A champions Juventus have also been linked with an offer.
However, earlier this week Zidane insisted James is happy at Madrid and appeared visibly frustrated when questioned on his future again ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga contest versus Celta Vigo.
“James is a Real Madrid footballer,” he said. “I always get asked the same question and always reply the same way.
“James is a Real Madrid footballer, he has a contract here. Yes, he’s played less, maybe that can be seen as a problem but I want my players to feel important and he’s no different from any of his team-mates.
“Recently? No [I have not spoken to James]. None of the players in fact.
“I speak to the players as a group. But, to answer your question, at the moment no I haven’t had a private chat with James.”
Madrid started their Liga campaign with a fine 3-0 victory at Real Sociedad last weekend, despite the absence of key duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Youngster Marco Asensio took his impressive pre-season form into that contest while Alvaro Morata was lively up front, but Zidane refused to be drawn on what the starting XI will look like when Ronaldo and Benzema return to the fold.
“I’m not too sure, I’ve got 22, 23, 24, 25 players,” he added. “They’re all important. All of them will play over the course of the season.
“They are all key. Ronaldo hasn’t played, Benzema hasn’t played, those that have played have done a good job.
“When they’re back I’ll decide what 11 will play. That’s what I do here.”
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