Bale did not wish to play for Real against City, says Zidane

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale make a penalty kick attempt against the Arsenal at the end of the second half of the International Champions Cup (ICC) soccer match between Real Madrid and Arsenal at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, USA, 23 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

MANCHESTER, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Gareth Bale has not travelled to Real Madrid's Champions League last-16 decider with Manchester City on Friday because he did not wish to play in the match, coach Zinedine Zidane has said.

Bale, Real’s joint-record signing, barely featured for Zidane’s side in their run to the Spanish title when the season resumed after the coronavirus stoppage, starting only one game and was visibly subdued during their celebrations.

He was left out of the squad for the final league game of the season against Leganes and was also absent from the squad for Friday’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium, where Madrid must overturn a 2-1 deficit to progress to the last eight.

“Many things have been said, there is a respectful relationship between the club and player but all I will say is that he preferred to not play, the rest is between us and him,” Zidane told a news conference on Thursday.

The French coach did not want to go into further details about why Bale did not want to play for the team or about his future at the club but confirmed that the Wales forward was not in the squad for personal rather than technical reasons.

Bale, 31, has won four Champions League titles with Real, scoring crucial goals in the 2014 and 2018 final triumphs over Atletico Madrid and Liverpool respectively. (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Christian Radnedge)


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