Zidane: Bale and James not ready to return for Real Madrid

By Sports Desk November 08, 2019

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane hopes to have Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez fit and available after the international break.

Muscle problems will keep both players out of Saturday's LaLiga game against Eibar despite them being called up to their respective national teams.

Wales winger Bale has not played a minute since a Euro 2020 qualifier close to a month ago, while midfielder James has missed Madrid's past three matches.

The pair have started individual fitness programmes but will not be considered for selection until they are able to complete full training sessions alongside the rest of the first team.

"They haven't been fit enough to play," Zidane said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"If they're going to go [away on international duty], they're going to go. They've got five or six days to see if they're fit enough to play for their country. They're not fit enough to play on Saturday.

"They haven't trained with the team. They've been training a little but not at the same pace as their team-mates. If players aren't training with their team-mates they can't play.

"They're not injured right now."

Bale's injury occurred in the same international fixture that left Croatia midfielder Luka Modric with bruising to his right quadriceps.

The 34-year-old subsequently sat out two club games, leaving Zidane wary of a repeat as his squad prepares to disassemble.

"Hopefully nothing happens, but it could. It's true in the last call-ups the players got injured," he said.

"Hopefully the players get away with the national teams, they play, and there are no injuries, and everyone comes back fit and available."

Amid the probe over why Bale and James have been absent, Zidane was asked to clarify his recent claim that Kylian Mbappe harbours a "dream" of playing for Madrid.

The Los Blancos boss said that he was simply repeating the Paris Saint-Germain star's own acknowledged ambition.

The comment riled PSG sporting director Leonardo, who called for an end to transfer speculation surrounding Mbappe.

Zidane said: "He's within his rights to have his opinion and when I get asked a question I will also say what I believe.

"All I said was what [the player] said, that Mbappe's dream is to one day wear the Real Madrid shirt. There's not really much to it to be honest."

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  • Disrespectful, wrong, ungrateful – Bale's Wales banner incurs media wrath in Spain Disrespectful, wrong, ungrateful – Bale's Wales banner incurs media wrath in Spain

    Gareth Bale's popularity in Spain appears to have sunk to an all-time low as he heads back to Real Madrid following international duty.

    Not sighted in LaLiga for well over a month, the winger made his second Wales start in four days as Ryan Giggs' men secured Euro 2020 qualification with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday.

    Bale's timely return to fitness prompted suspicion, and his actions after the game have attracted more scorn in certain sections of the Spanish media, who have routinely criticised him for spending too much time on the golf course.

    In Cardiff, he was pictured celebrating with Wales team-mates behind a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

    Madrid newspaper Marca, said to have close links to the powerful club that employs Bale, did not take kindly to what has been perceived as a mocking gesture.

    The front page of its Thursday edition featured Bale and the headline: "DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER".

    AS, also headquartered in the Spanish capital, depicted the four-time Champions League winner sinking a close-range putt alongside the headline: "BALE IS IN A HOLE".

    Meanwhile, online newspaper El Espanol captured the order of priorities supporters expect – "MADRID. MADRID. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER" – while columnist Tomas Roncero summed up what appears to lay ahead.

    His comment piece in AS included a simple, ominous quote for Bale's future: "Out, out, out."

    The media message crossed borders ahead of Madrid's meeting with Real Sociedad on Sunday.

    In an interview with The Athletic, ex-Madrid president Ramon Calderon called Bale "childish" and claimed fans were "very angry" with the one-time €100million signing.

  • Real Madrid winger Vazquez suffers broken big toe Real Madrid winger Vazquez suffers broken big toe

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    Vazquez sustained the injury when he dropped a weight during a gym session, according to reports in Spain.

    Madrid, who host Real Sociedad on Saturday, have not specified a timeframe for his recovery.

    The 28-year-old missed matches against Mallorca and Galatasaray in October due to a calf problem.

    "Following the tests carried out today on our player Lucas Vazquez by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a fracture to the distal phalanx in his left hallux," read a club statement.

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    Vazquez has made seven LaLiga appearances this season, starting four times and scoring once.

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  • Zidane won't be happy with 'childish' Bale, says ex-Real Madrid president Calderon Zidane won't be happy with 'childish' Bale, says ex-Real Madrid president Calderon

    Gareth Bale's well-publicised celebration of Wales' Euro 2020 qualification will inflame his relationship with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, according to Los Blancos' former president Ramon Calderon.

    In the aftermath of his country's 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday, Bale was pictured behind a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

    The slogan stems from a chant sung by Wales fans that pokes fun at the Spanish media's portrayal of Bale, who has been accused of placing Madrid low down his list of priorities and spending too much time playing golf.

    The 30-year-old almost left for China during the close season and recently admitted he gets more enjoyment from playing for the national team than Madrid.

    Calderon, Madrid's president from July 2006 to January 2009, believes the events of Tuesday could cost Bale a place in Zidane's matchday squad, with Los Blancos set to host high-flying Real Sociedad in LaLiga on Saturday.

    "It's going to be difficult for Bale now because it was very childish of him to pose behind that banner," Calderon told The Athletic.

    "Fans are very angry because of course they didn't like that, bearing in mind he has hardly played for the team this season then he goes off on international duty with Wales and plays in two matches.

    "It's a difficult situation for Zidane and he won't be happy with Bale for posing with that banner.

    "Bale hasn't done himself any favours with this. He's adding fuel to the fire and it's going to be difficult for Zidane to include him in the starting line-up and also the bench."

    Bale was reportedly on the cusp of joining Jiangsu Suning in July, only for the deal to fall through at the last minute.

    Calderon advised the four-time Champions League winner to pursue a return to Tottenham, where Jose Mourinho is now charge.

    "He was linked with going to China but that is only for players who are at the end of their careers or who go for money," he said.

    "Bale has at least three or four more years at the top level. Could he join Jose Mourinho at Tottenham? Why not? It depends on what Mourinho thinks of him but I'm sure the fans at Tottenham have very good memories of him there.

    "For Bale to go back to where he really belongs would be ideal for everyone, because going to China would be a pity."

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