‘He preferred not to play’ – Zinedine Zidane gives astonishing reason for Gareth Bale’s absence from Real Madrid squad for Man City clash
Zinedine Zidane has revealed that Gareth Bale asked to be left out of Real Madrid’s squad for the Champions League clash against Manchester CIty at the Etihad on Friday.
Suspended skipper Sergio Ramos is part of the 24-man group that has travelled to Manchester for the last-16 second leg – but Bale has not made the trip as the La Liga champions look to overturn a 2-1 deficit.
This appeared to be the latest insult suffered by Bale at the hands of Zidane, however the Frenchman claims it was actually the winger’s own choice not to play.
“In the end many things are said,” the Zidane said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“We have a respectful relationship as coach and player, of course.
“All I can say is that he preferred not to play, nothing more.
“The rest is between him and me.”
Asked if Bale had a future at Real, Zidane said: “I don’t know. Now he is a current player at Real Madrid. That has not changed. He is our player. I respect that and I respect him, like everyone else.
“He preferred not to play. That is the only thing I can tell you. The rest of us are all here, preparing for the game. The only thing we are concentrating on is the game.”
The bitter feud between Bale and Zidane is one of football’s worst-kept secrets.
Since Spanish football resumed, Bale has spent most of his time fooling around in the stands as an unused substitute for the La Liga champions.
The Welshman has been pictured yawning, covering his eyes with his face mask, and making fake binoculars with his hands.
Reports have suggested Real could let Bale leave the club for free this summer – despite the forward having two years left on his deal.
According to ABC, Real want to get the winger off their wage bill, with the club said to be angry that he appears unwilling to fight for his position in the first-team.
It’s a battle of morals, more than anything else, and Bale appears content to sit back and let his £600,000-a-week roll in.
But Danny Murphy believes it’s time he ended his stay in sunny Spain and returned ‘home’ to Tottenham so he can enjoy his football again.
He told talkSPORT: “Maybe the lifestyle, the family contentment, he loves his golf, the climate, the finances are good, the family are settled from what I hear… so maybe he’s not like everybody else and he’s an exception to the rule.
“But that regret of looking back and thinking, ‘I can’t do it now, why didn’t I do it then?’ Playing football is something you can’t do forever and he’s damn good at it; people like watching him play, he’s a wonderful footballer and he’s done so much in the game, but he’s still only 31.
“I’d be saying to him, ‘go and play, mate and just enjoy it’.
“There has to be a way out of Real Madrid and I think the one place for Gareth is Tottenham. He’s loved there already; he’s got the fans on board and they could do with him, he’d be a great boost to the team.
“Could he find a way of going back there? That, for me, would be great for Tottenham.”