Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane on Gareth Bale: I've never had an issue with him

As Welsh attacker closes on Spurs return, French manager insists that 'nobody can question what what he's achieved' at the Spanish club, but warns the deal is not done yet

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane insists he never had a problem with Gareth Bale ahead of the Welsh attacker's proposed return to England and Tottenham Hotspur.

The finishing touches are being put on Bale's season-long loan at Spurs, but Zidane revealed the deal is still not concluded despite the Welshman arriving at the club's training ground more than 24 hours ago.

Bale's time at the Bernabeu, where he won three the Champions League four times, ended on a sour note as he struggled for game time under the Frenchman and was the subject of criticism from the fans and the Spanish media. He scored 105 goals and made 68 assists in 251 games for Real Madrid.

However Zidane insists there has never been a personal issue with Bale, who is rejoining the club he left for a then world-record fee of £85 million (Dh402m) in 2013.

"I've never had an issue with him," he said on the club's official website. "I know what he's done at this club, nobody can take that away from him and these are simply things that can happen for different reasons.

"All I can say is that he hasn't signed yet, the deal isn't done and we haven't had any problems, which is what some people want.

"That hasn't been the case. Nobody can question what he's achieved. If there's now a change in his career. All I can do is wish him all the best and that's all there is to it.

"It's not as simple as that, but they're in negotiations and he's in London.

"I haven't spoken to him. He's done excellently in terms of what he's achieved here and there should be no discussion about that.

"He's won a lot of silverware at Real Madrid. All of the players who play for Madrid are aware of the club they're joining and I think that he's proved his ability.

"We'll now have to see what happens. We know what a fine player he is and what he's done over these past seven years at Real Madrid.

"I think it's also all about what the player wants. I'm not going to get into that. I'm not going to now go against what I've always said: that the player has done amazingly.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion on these issues. Gareth is still our player and the deal has yet to have been completed. We're not going to speak about things yet as that would make no sense."

Soccer Football - Gareth Bale arrives in London - Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre, London, Britain - September 18, 2020 Gareth Bale arrives at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley
Gareth Bale arriving at the Tottenham training ground on Friday. Reuters

Bale arrived in London on Friday afternoon along with Madrid team-mate Sergio Reguilon, who is set to join on a five-year deal for a reported £27.5m.

Reguilon had a successful loan deal at Sevilla last season and can be bought back by Madrid, who inserted a clause in the deal.

"Now that you've asked me about him, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Reguilon for the season that he had," Zidane said.

"He's a Real Madrid player and he had the chance to go out and play. We've got two players in every position and I've got two full-backs.

"What I can't have is three or four because then it becomes a problem. I wish Reguilon all the very best because he had a good season at Sevilla and deserves to now go and join Tottenham."

Madrid begin the defence of their La Liga title this weekend against Real Sociedad, after being given extra time off following their involvement in last season's Champions League.

The club have made no signings this summer due to the financial fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic, while Eden Hazard is again struggling for fitness.

Asked if Hazard had now recovered from the ankle injury that plagued him last term, Zidane said: "I don't know, I can't tell you exactly.

"He is better and the most important thing is him, his feeling, that he is 100 per cent. We have time, we are starting the season. What he needs is to be 100 or 120 per cent."

Updated: September 19, 2020 07:39 PM

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