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Real Madrid’s board want Zinedine Zidane to set aside his personal differences with Gareth Bale to get the best out of the Wales international while he remains at the club, sources have told ESPN FC.
The club still believe that, when on form, Bale remains one of their most important players. Regardless of what happens in the future, senior figures believe that the good of the team must come first, ahead of any individual grievances.
Zidane sought to downplay reports of the forward’s unhappiness at a news conference on Friday, insisting he doesn’t have to persuade Bale to stay.
“He’s here with us working hard” the coach said ahead of Saturday’s game with Real Betis, after a week in which Bale travelled to London with the club’s permission to discuss his future with his agent.
“It’s old news. He’s here, on the pitch, going step by step. We want him back in the team, nothing else.
“I don’t have to convince him: he’s here, with us, in training. He’s back from his trip and he’s getting better. He’s not ready yet. We should bring him out to speak to you and tell you what he thinks. But he looks fine to me.”
The relationship between Bale and Zidane has been strained for some time and their differences go beyond what happened last season when the French coach returned to the club and began to ease Bale out of the team in an attempt to force his departure.
In Zidane’s first spell at the Bernabeu there were major issues between the two, culminating in Bale starting the Champions League final in Kiev in 2018 on the bench.
This season, once a summer departure had been ruled out, Bale’s intention was to improve the relationship, despite Zidane’s preseason claim that “if Bale leaves tomorrow, that would be best.”
There has been no improvement, however, and Madrid’s coaching staff believe Bale’s ongoing injury problems mean his contributions remain inconsistent, while the player’s camp argue that he has received little support from his coach in public or in private.
That being said, the club want Zidane and Bale to set aside their personal differences so that the former Spurs player gets back to his best, for the benefit of all involved.
“It’s a question of common sense,” a club source told ESPN FC.
Madrid believe Bale remains one of the club’s best players when fit and on form, and the club accept that a January departure would be extremely complicated.
Bale’s teammates believe the situation is salvageable and continue to support him, recognising his value to the cause.