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Zidane trying to resolve Bale issue politely and firmly

The main news surrounding Real Madrid’s opening game of the 2019-20 pre-season didn’t concern the defeat – newspapers focused on Gareth Bale's non-appearance. He wasn’t even in the squad. Countless others did get to play, first the regular starters and then the second choice players and last but not least, those who are reserves of the reserves – youth team players who have been invited along on the trip. But Bale didn’t play, which speak volumes of the firmness, wrapped up in polite words, from Zidane. Bale the Premier League publicity icon - a player whose image on a giant billboard advert on Times Square captivated Florentino, has no place in Zidane’s Madrid. The coach hasn’t been making a song and dance about it, but has been resolute when asked to talk about the matter.

Gareth Bale in training yesterday

Bale no, Pogba yes

We’ll have to wait and see how and where Madrid can find him a new home. The fortune that they paid for him has all been paid off, but to bring Paul Pogba in means Madrid have to raise funds. Zidane wants Pogba on board and has stated so formally in public - although I get the impression he is equally as adamant about getting Pogba as he is in getting rid of Bale. Now it’s up to the club to find a solution. Bale doesn’t want to go. The problem is that no one is sure that he’s the kind of player who be too bothered if he was benched. Not so long ago he spoke about the hardships that professional footballers have to go through. So maybe it would be best to pay him without hassling him, and give him all the time he wants to play golf. I’ve no idea how all of this will end.

Rodrygo's golazo against Bayern

Team still in construction

As for the game, Zidane used it to give a hint about the pecking order by fielding two different teams in each half. In the first, Madrid didn’t play badly but they lacked finishing - in other words, Cristiano. It’ll be the same story as last season until someone pops up to resolve the finishing issue. The second half was a minor disaster, partly masked by a decent Keylor Navas and Rodrygo, who made some amends with a stunning free-kick. There were also positive glimpses from Kubo. As for Vinicius, we can gauge that Zidane isn’t overly keen on him. Overall, the team didn’t do a great deal. It’s still only a provisional side, one which is waiting for Pogba to stir them up a bit and for Bale to leave once and for all.