I have not disrespected Gareth Bale, says Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane

Ahead of Wednesday's match against Arsenal Zidane claims Welshman refused to play in 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in Houston

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane speaks during a news conference ahead of the team's pre-season soccer friendly against Arsenal, in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Nathan Frandino
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Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has denied accusations he disrespected Gareth Bale in talking about the Welshman's potential transfer and claimed he refused to play in Saturday's friendly loss to Bayern Munich.

Bale, 30, is again unlikely to feature against Arsenal when Real continue their International Champions Cup campaign in Washington on Wednesday as the Spanish giants look to push through his transfer out of the club.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the match at FedEx Field - home of the NFL's Washington Redskins - Zidane said it was Bale who took himself out of contention for the 3-1 defeat to Bayern in Houston.

"At times my Spanish is very suspect," Zidane said. "I want to be very clear about this. Firstly, I have not disrespected anybody and least of all the player.

"I have always said the same, the players are the most important and every time I am with a player here I will be with them always.

"Second thing, I said the club is trying to sell him. Third point, I think it is very important and crucial to say that the other day Gareth did not change [play] because he did not want to.

"Gareth is a Real Madrid player. That is the most important thing, he is a player for the squad," he added.

Zidane's revelations following the 3-1 defeat to Bayern prompted a curt response from Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, who branded the Frenchman a "disgrace".

"Today, he is a Real Madrid player," Zidane said, adding that the striker would train with the team on Monday night.

It is the latest chapter in a catastrophic breakdown in the relationship between club and player.

Bale became the world's most expensive footballer when he moved to Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for £85 million (Dh389m).

Despite scoring over 100 goals and winning a host of trophies, including a La Liga, Copa del Rey and four Uefa Champions League titles, the Welsh forward has been marginalised since Zidane's return to the dugout in March. Bale played 90 minutes in just three of the remaining 11 matches of last season, was left out completely four times and frequently substituted when he did play.

He has also become the subject of boos from the Bernabeu faithful, who have long tired of his constant injuries and perceived failure to integrate into Spanish society.


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While the impasse over Bale's future rumbles on, one Real Madrid player seemingly headed towards the exit door is 22-year-old midfielder Dani Ceballos, who is set to join Wednesday's opponents Arsenal on a season-long loan.

The Gunners have yet to make a marquee signing in this transfer window, but Emery spoke glowingly of his compatriot ahead of Wednesday's match.

"We are speaking about the possibility to sign one player, Emery said. "We have different names and the club is working on that.

"Ceballos is a very good player. I know him from [Real] Betis at the beginning and Real Madrid," he added of Ceballos, who started out at Betis before moving to Madrid in 2017.

"He played very well in the Under 21s [for Spain], his national team won the [2019 European Championship] competition. He can play as a No 8 or a No 10."