Zinedine Zidane insisted it “couldn’t be further from the truth” to suggest there is a problem with Gareth Bale at Real Madrid.
Wales forward Bale has played just 12 LaLiga matches for Madrid this season and was not involved in Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final against Real Sociedad.
Spanish media reported Bale left the Santiago Bernabeu long before the final whistle in that match, which ended in a 4-3 defeat for Madrid.
He has barely been involved since the turn of the year, yet Zidane told reporters in a news conference on Saturday they should not “read between the lines”.
Bale’s situation dominated the media room discussion before Madrid’s Sunday trip to face Osasuna.
When asked if he was happy with the way Bale is training, Zidane said: “Yes, and I’m happy with all the players I have here.
“I know the answer you’re looking for, but I have 25 players at my disposal and I have to pick a team. There’s no issues or underlying problems and I’m sure he’s going to keep working as he has been and he’s going to be a part of this team.”
The question of Bale leaving before the end of the Sociedad match was raised, but again Zidane played it straight, saying: “The most important thing is he wants to be here, wants to work hard, wants to train.
“There are times when he’s not named in the matchday squad but I wouldn’t read between the lines. I understand everyone has a point of view but he’s going to be a player I’ll lean on from now until the end.”
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 7, 2020
Bale’s agent recently said the former Tottenham star intends to stay at the club at least until the end of his contract in 2022, spurring Zidane to say he has “no issue whatsoever” with that plan.
The 30-year-old almost left Madrid in the close season, when a move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning was called off.
What might be said in private between Zidane and Bale remains the subject of conjecture.
“We talk regularly, but I’m not going to tell you what I tell my players behind closed doors,” Zidane said.
“He hasn’t been in the last few squad lists – I have to choose. We know what he can bring to the side – he has to be fit and ready and I want him to be in the best shape to play.
“I have to pick a team, a squad, and the players are battling for a place in the squad and the starting XI. I have to choose the players every three days.
“You might think there’s a problem but no, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
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