REAL MADRID

Zidane: "I want Bale to stay until the end of the season"

The Real Madrid manager spoke to the press ahead of Galatasaray and said of Bale: "If he isn’t ready to play here, I don’t think he will play for Wales."

Zidane: "I want Bale to stay until the end of the season"
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU AFP

Zinedine Zidane spoke to the press ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League encounter with Galatasaray, which will go some way to shaping the Liga club’s European fortunes after defeat at PSG and a draw against Brugge has left them in a somewhat uncomfortable position in Group A.

“We are both excited about the game because we are playing at home and in front of our own fans,” the Frenchman told reporters. “But we are also aware of the responsibility because we know what our situation is. We have to play a great game.”

The Real boss also fielded the now-obligatory question about Gareth Bale, with the Welshman in the eye of the pro-Madrid storm after missing the last month through injury yet being called up for Wales ahead of the latest international break.

Zidane on Bale: "People say I don’t want him, but that's nonsense"

The main thing for us is that the player is ok. He is not ready to play yet and he is not ready to train normally. If Wales want to call him up that is their right. It’s a FIFA week and we are not going to get involved. We do not doubt Bale, he is the one who is suffering the most. We’ll watch him during the week and we’ll see if he’s ok to play for his country. The real shame is he’s not with us.”

Pressed on the issue, Zidane was asked if Bale had an attitude problem or if the club was looking to shift the forward on in January, the Frenchman gave an unusually in-depth response.

I do not have a problem with Bale. I can also speak for our fans. He wants to be available for us. And if he isn’t ready to play here, I don’t think he will play there [for Wales]. This is the situation: He was injured, he came back here and he hasn’t recovered. He wants to get back to training and playing. The fans have to think positively. People also say I don’t want him, but that's nonsense. Anybody can say what they like about me, but nobody can put words that are not true into my mouth. I want him to stay until the end of the season. I am very clear on that. He remains a part of this team and he will try and play.

“I have a good relationship with Bale. We say good morning to each other every day. We have never had any problems between us. He’s a very good player but you [the press] should also stop saying the same thing over and over. He left before the end [of the game against Betis]? It was the same when I was a player. The important thing is that the players are together before the game, at half time, helping the team. They are all committed, because they want to see their team win.”