Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale is close to leaving Real Madrid after he was left out of Saturday's International Champions Cup clash against Bayern Munich.

Bale has been deemed surplus to requirements by head coach Zidane and the Welsh star was absent as Madrid lost 3-1 to Bayern in Houston.

The 30-year-old, who has three seasons remaining on his contract, has been linked to former club Tottenham, Manchester United and Bayern.

And Bale's future is close to being resolved, with Zidane determined to sell the Wales international sooner rather than later.

Asked why Bale was left out of the squad on Saturday, Zidane told reporters: "Bale did not play because he is very close to leaving.

"We hope he leaves soon, it would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team."

"I have nothing personal against him, but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done, I have to make decisions, we have to change," he added.

"The exit is the coach's decision, and also of the player, who knows the situation.

"The situation will change, I do not know if in 24 or 48 hours, but it will, and it's a good thing for everyone."

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as the LaLiga giants were beaten 3-1 by Bayern Munich at the International Champions Cup in Houston.

Hazard wore the Madrid jersey for the first time since his big-money move from Chelsea, while fellow recruits Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo Goes also made their bows for Zinedine Zidane's side.

But Corentin Tolisso, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry stole the show as Bayern put Madrid to the sword in the second half, which saw Zidane make 11 changes at the interval.

Tolisso opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Bayern completely dominated in the second half, with substitutes Lewandowski and Gnabry condemning Madrid to defeat in their ICC opener on Saturday.

Madrid did have something to celebrate when Rodrygo capped his debut with a stunning 84th-minute free-kick after Sven Ulreich was sent off for bringing down the former Santos youngster.

Gareth Bale was left out of the Madrid squad amid ongoing uncertainty over his future, with the Welshman linked to Bayern. While there was no room for Bale, Jovic, Rodrygo and Mendy were on the bench.

It was an entertaining and end-to-end first half, with Bayern's Manuel Neuer the busier of the two goalkeepers at NRG Stadium.

After Neuer managed to make a goal-line save to deny Karim Benzema in the 11th minute, Bayern broke the deadlock four minutes later via Tolisso.

A low cross from Kingsley Coman found a way through to Tolisso, whose initial shot was stopped on the line by Thibaut Courtois, but the Frenchman made no mistake with the rebound.

Madrid huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser – Benzema, who failed to capitalise on a pair of consecutive close-range chances, in the thick of the action but unable to put the ball over the line.

Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Hazard also had opportunities for Madrid prior to half-time, however, Bayern managed to preserve their advantage.

Madrid controlled possession early in the second half but Bayern were a threat in attack and the German giants sent a warning when an unmarked Thiago Alcantara drove into the box, however he was unable to direct Coman's cross on target approaching the hour mark.

That warning went unheeded as centre-back Niklas Sule picked out Lewandowski with a ball over Madrid's defence in the 67th minute and the Polish striker produced a stunning piece of skill to control it before turning and finishing into the bottom corner.

Gnabry completed the rout two minutes later when the German found himself unmarked in the area and he had time to take a touch and fire a half-volley past Keylor Navas.

Bayern ended the match with 10 men after Ulreich was red carded for a foul on Rodrygo outside the area in the 81st minute following Joshua Kimmich's sloppy back-pass and the Madrid signing converted his own free-kick to pull a goal back.

Niko Kovac says Renato Sanches' future is at Bayern Munich, with the coach ruling out a move for Gareth Bale.

Sanches has struggled to break through since joining Bayern from Benfica in 2016, the 21-year-old midfielder starting four Bundesliga games last term.

But the Portugal international still has a future with the German champions despite his problems, according to Kovac.

"We've told Renato that we'd like him to stay," Kovac said ahead of Saturday's International Champions Cup clash with Real Madrid.

"He's obviously been considering his options after last season, but we explained the reasons behind his limited game time and he understood them. He sees his future with us."

Bayern are seeking attacking reinforcements after the departures of veteran wing duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Leroy Sane and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been confirmed as targets by the club but Kovac flatly denied a move for Madrid misfit Bale is possible.

Asked by a reporter if there was a place for the Wales forward in his squad, Kovac replied: "No."

He added: "I would like my German colleagues [journalists] to listen carefully to what I have to say. He [Bale] is a great player, like other players who are also great players.

"I can't tell you whether he really can play somewhere else apart from Real Madrid and if he will even succeed at other clubs. This is something that I don't know and I can't really predict."

Pep Guardiola remains hopeful winger Leroy Sane will stay at Manchester City and claims he has not spoken to anyone at Bayern Munich regarding the Germany international.

Bayern are on the lookout for wide players to fill the sizeable void left by Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben with Sane top of their wishlist.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and coach Niko Kovac have been vocal in their admiration of the 23-year-old with the former even suggesting the Bundesliga champions are "ready" to make a move should the player express a wish to leave the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola, speaking ahead of the Asia Trophy clash with Wolves, hinted at dissatisfaction with his former club's public pursuit and outlined his desire to keep Sane in the Premier League.

He told reporters in Shanghai: "For a long time they talk about their interest, but Leroy is our player and hopefully he can stay next season and next season and next season."

Pushed on if he had spoken to anyone at Bayern, Guardiola replied: "No."

City have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far, with the signing of defensive midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid their only major acquisition.

Guardiola said: "We are so happy with the squad we have. I don't know if the players here will stay or if new players will come. But I am delighted with the players we have."

City have been linked with Leicester City's Harry Maguire although it seems Manchester United now lead the race for the England international. Guardiola suggested central defence was an area he was considering strengthening but had options in his squad should a move not materialise.

"There's a chance [of a defender coming in] but I don't know if it will be possible. We [already] have three incredible central defenders and Fernandinho can play in that position," he said.

Maybe Juventus are not ready to give up on signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba just yet.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a return to Turin and a move to Real Madrid as he looks for an Old Trafford exit.

But, just as it looked like Juve were struggling and Madrid was the midfielder's most likely destination, that may have changed.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO OFFER THREE PLAYERS IN MOVE FOR POGBA

Juventus could offer a fee plus three players in their move for Manchester United star Pogba, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Full-back Joao Cancelo, attacker Douglas Costa and midfielder Blaise Matuidi are the players mentioned for potential moves in the report.

Meanwhile, ESPN FC report Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told coach Zinedine Zidane that it will be very difficult to sign Pogba this close season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain. According to Sky Germany, Barca are offering €100million plus two players, having given PSG a list of six that includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom. That is up from the earlier offer of €40m plus two players. According to Sport, Barca have made Coutinho and Rakitic priorities to be sold.

- After being linked to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to re-sign with Chelsea. The Daily Mail report the 18-year-old England international will sign a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Giovani Lo Celso apparently wants to join Tottenham, but Spurs are unwilling to meet Real Betis' £60m (€66.8m) asking price, according to The Sun, who say Erik Lamela could be added into a deal. Danny Rose could also reportedly leave Spurs and Sky Sports say PSG are interested in the left-back.

- Arsenal have beaten their north London rivals to the signing of Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, according to ESPN FC. Arsenal will complete the signing of Saliba for £26.9m (€30m) and loan him back to the Ligue 1 club despite late interest from Spurs, the report says.

- Another reported Arsenal target, Wilfried Zaha, has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave, according to The Sun. Arsenal have reportedly had a £40m bid for the attacker rejected.

- Bayern Munich are ready to meet Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez's €25m release clause, according to Kicker. Mendez, 22, was handed a Spain debut late last year and scored six goals while providing seven assists for Celta in LaLiga in 2018-19.

Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso is confident new arrivals Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard will significantly improve the German giants.

The versatile defenders and Tolisso helped France to 2018 World Cup glory and the trio are now re-united as Bayern target another successful campaign.

Both players sought the opinion of Tolisso before making their respective moves, but the 24-year-old said it was "not difficult" to convince them to join him at the Bundesliga champions.

"They wanted to know how the club [works] and the atmosphere in the team," Tolisso told Bayern's official website.

"I told them that they will surely be happy here. We have so many great players here. Of course I advised [them to join] ... Bayern is a big club."

Asked to describe Hernandez and Pavard, Tolisso added: "Lucas is a bit crazy! He makes a lot of jokes and laughs a lot, but when he's on the pitch – wow. He is a fighter and always gives everything.

"Benjamin is a bit calmer, but he works very hard. He brings a lot of power when he plays. They both bring a lot of quality to our team."

Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga in recent years, winning the past seven titles.

Tolisso insist Bayern have the firepower to contest many fronts, though, with winning the UEFA Champions League a primary goal of his.

"We want to win the Bundesliga and the cup and we know the fans want to win the Champions League," he said.

"That's normal, because the last time they could celebrate the Champions League [was] six years ago. We have the team to play big games and also to win this title."

Robert Lewandowski is showing the right qualities to be a leader at Bayern Munich, according to coach Niko Kovac.

The Poland striker appeared to be agitating for a move away from the Allianz Arena last year but stayed at the club and scored 40 goals in all competitions to help them to the domestic double.

The 30-year-old said in March he could finish his career at the club and has now confirmed he is in talks over an extension to his contract, which expires in 2021.

Kovac now has little hesitation in trusting the former Borussia Dortmund forward as one of the vice-captains of his side.

"Last season, I wanted to give him the recognition he deserves as a player, due to his performances he has shown not only in Germany but also as the captain of the Polish national team," he said.

"You can see it means a lot to him to be the vice-captain. I'm really happy with his development and he shows what's expected of a leader."

Bayern looked at times last season as though their stranglehold on the Bundesliga was to be broken by Dortmund, but they ended the season in strong fashion to claim a seventh league title in a row and win the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig.

Kovac expects Dortmund to challenge once more given their strong close season in which they have signed Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz, Julian Brandt and Mats Hummels, but he is not discounting one or two other surprise contenders.

"All we know is that it was a close race last season between Dortmund and us," he said. "There will be other teams chasing us, but of course we will be the team everyone in the Bundesliga wants to catch.

"I think Dortmund have made some good signings. As I mentioned before, it was a really close race between us two for the title. We'll have to see; you never know.

"I think maybe [Bayer] Leverkusen will play an important role with their new coach [Peter] Bosz, who plays very good football, very attacking football. We have to count them as well as a competitor for the German title.

"Leipzig were very strong last season. Now they have signed a new coach [Julian Nagelsmann], so we'll have to see. We have to give them some time, see how they develop with the new coach, but I think they'll be a serious opponent as well. And then maybe another surprising team, you never know in the Bundesliga, so we will have to see what happens."

Pep Guardiola is aiming to convince Leroy Sane to stay at Manchester City amid interest from Bayern Munich, insisting the club can help the winger fulfil his potential.

Sane has been heavily linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions in this transfer window, with Bayern having confirmed their interest.

The Germany international came off the bench to set up a Raheem Sterling goal on Wednesday, as City cruised to a 4-1 win over West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

And Guardiola did not shy away from acknowledging his wish for Sane – who scored 16 goals in all competitions last season – to remain at City.

"I have said many times that we want people to be happy here and we want to help Leroy to reach his potential," Guardiola told a news conference.

"He's a great player with incredible quality."

One player who has left City is Vincent Kompany, with the defender having called time on his 11-year stint in Manchester at the end of last season.

Kompany has returned to his former club Anderlecht in a player-manager role, leaving City without a club captain, and Guardiola revealed a new skipper will only be chosen when all of his players have returned to pre-season training.

"We will choose the captain," Guardiola said. "We will wait until everyone is back and they will choose their captain."

Bayern Munich have signed young striker Leon Dajaku from Stuttgart.

The 18-year-old Germany youth international has agreed a four-year contract with the Bundesliga champions.

"We're very happy Leon has chosen Bayern," said Jochen Sauer, head of the FC Bayern Campus.

"We're convinced he will make great progress at Bayern."

Dajaku scored 17 goals in 31 appearances for Stuttgart's Under-19 side last season.

He also played twice in the Bundesliga for the senior side, who were relegated after losing to Union Berlin on away goals in a play-off tie.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says Robert Lewandowski could extend his contract with Bayern Munich and has ruled out a deal to bring back Mario Mandzukic.

Poland striker Lewandowski appeared to be agitating for a move away from the Allianz Arena 12 months ago but was unable to secure an exit.

He went on to score 40 goals last season as Bayern won the domestic double and admitted in March he could see out his career at Bayern after becoming much more settled.

Chairman Rummenigge now hopes Lewandowski will agree to a new contract as he believes the 30-year-old could play for several more years. Lewandowski's current deal covers the next two seasons.

"It's not all wrapped up, but there's already the development with Robert that he feels extremely comfortable with Bayern Munich," Rummenigge said to Bild.

"When you look at his body, this is a player who can easily play at this level for a few more years."

Rummenigge also dismissed talk that former Bayern striker Mandzukic could be brought back to the club from Juventus as support for Lewandowski, saying: "Nothing is planned in that direction."

However, Rummenigge did confirm Bayern remain eager to sign another winger to help fill the void left by Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who left at the end of last season.

"We still need a winger because we lost two with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben," said Rummenigge, with Bayern still thought to be interested in Leroy Sane and Ousmane Dembele. "But I don't want to promise anything because there is no point in making big promises."

Rummenigge added he is confident head coach Niko Kovac can make further strides with the club in 2019-20 thanks in part to their impressive strength in depth in defence.

"When I look at our defence, with [David] Alaba, [Lucas] Hernandez, [Niklas] Sule, [Joshua] Kimmich, [Benjamin] Pavard and Jerome [Boateng], where we have to wait and see what's going on with him, I have to say I don't see many better in Europe," he said.

"Also, what we have to offer up front... it's all good. We have a good team and a good squad; the transfer market is not over yet. When the Bundesliga starts, I'm convinced our team will be very focused and motivated to get to work.

"Niko knows we are a club that needs success. We're interested in continuity, in the coaching position as well. I wish him as successful a second season as he had last year, with the double, and perhaps one more round in the Champions League. Everyone would then be very happy with Bayern."

Ousmane Dembele's behaviour at Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona should put Bayern Munich off making a move for the France forward, according Die Roten great Lothar Matthaus.

Recent speculation has left Dembele's future looking uncertain, with Barca seemingly set to sign Antoine Griezmann and rumours over a move for Neymar refuse to go away.

Should either Griezmann or Neymar – or potentially both – come in, Dembele may well find himself further down the pecking order in Ernesto Valverde's squad.

Dembele joined Barca as Neymar's replacement in 2017, though he has struggled with injuries and inconsistent form since his move from Dortmund, who received an initial €105million fee after the player had gone on strike to push through a move.

With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – who has since retired – no longer at Bayern, the Bundesliga champions are on the hunt for at least one winger, with Manchester City's Leroy Sane also a target.

Rumours have linked Bayern with a move for Dembele, but Matthaus believes bringing in the 22-year-old – whose attitude has also been called into question during his time at Camp Nou – would be a mistake.

"When I think about the scandals that Dembele caused at Borussia Dortmund and at Barcelona, ​​I see no reason to believe that he would behave differently at Bayern," Matthaus told BILD.

And Matthaus does not believe he is the only one who thinks this way, citing Bayern chief Uli Hoeness' reaction to Dembele's behaviour at Dortmund as another reason to doubt the transfer rumours.

"Uli Hoeness had a clear position against Dembele's strike at Dortmund, and if Bayern pick the player up, they would have a credibility problem," he added.

Dembele scored 14 goals for Barca across all competitions last season.

Barcelona are in no rush in their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Neymar, 27, is set to be fined by the Ligue 1 champions after failing to turn up for the first day of pre-season training.

With sporting director Leonardo confirming the Brazil forward can leave for the right price, Barca think they are in a strong position, and the Catalan giants are ready to play a waiting game.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN NO RUSH OVER NEYMAR

Barcelona are prepared to wait and see if PSG blink first over Neymar, according to a report from AS.

Neymar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million move two years ago and it has now become clear he wants an exit from Parc des Princes.

In a strong position, Barca are remaining patient in their pursuit of the Brazil star, who has also been linked with their rivals Real Madrid.

Marca also report Barcelona are willing to wait, with PSG's asking price sure to continue dropping as the skilful forward continues to show his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are ready to give in to Ajax's demands over Matthijs de Ligt. Sport report the Serie A champions are planning to present the star defender on Saturday, having apparently agreed to pay the Eredivisie club €75m for the centre-back.

- Manchester United are increasingly confident about signing Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. The Daily Mail claim the Red Devils are hoping to land the centre-back for £75m, which is short of Leicester's reported £85m valuation.

- West Ham have begun searching for someone to replace Marko Arnautovic, who left for China. The Sun say the Premier League club have been offered the chance to sign free agent Mario Balotelli, while Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Hammers have also shown an interest in Juve forward Gonzalo Higuain.

- Mario Mandzukic could be set for a surprise return to Bayern Munich. Bild report the Juve striker has been discussed as a possible back-up for Robert Lewandowski and another wide option for head coach Niko Kovac.

- Everton continue to be linked with forwards and the Telegraph say the Premier League club expressed an interest in Lille's Nicolas Pepe, who is said to have been a target of rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Sun claim Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is prepared to talk to the Toffees.

- Newcastle United seem close to finding their replacement for Rafael Benitez. According to the Daily Mail, Sam Allardyce has rejected a return to the club, with Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce now the favourite.

Mats Hummels' unwillingness to compete for his spot at Bayern Munich led to his Borussia Dortmund return, according to Niko Kovac.

Hummels, 30, returned to Dortmund for a reported €38million last month, ending a three-year stay at Bayern.

Bayern had already agreed a reported €80m move for Atletico Madrid and France defender Lucas Hernandez, who they intend to use at centre-back.

With Niklas Sule already part of the Bundesliga champions' squad, Kovac said Hummels had no interest in fighting for his place at Bayern.

"Mats did a great job, especially in the second half of the season," the Bayern head coach said on Tuesday.

"Like [Bayern president] Uli Hoeness said, at the end of the season Mats came to us and asked what the status quo was for the new season.

"Niklas Sule did a great job, he is a starter of the [Germany] national team and with Lucas we bought a player that we want to play centre-back. That doesn't mean anything.

"Competition means the best player will play. In that case, Mats wanted to avoid that. We accept that and the result is that he plays for BVB now."

Hummels won three Bundesliga titles and a DFB-Pokal during his second stint at Bayern Munich.

Lucas Hernandez would be keen to see former Atletico Madrid team-mate Antoine Griezmann join him at Bayern Munich, where he could become "the best in the world".

Griezmann will follow Lucas out of the door at the Wanda Metropolitano in the coming weeks, with Barcelona widely tipped to sign the France forward.

But while a deal has yet to be finalised, Lucas is interested in linking up with his compatriot again, believing a move to Bayern would suit him.

"[Griezmann] is a big player and many clubs would like him," Lucas told a news conference.

"Of course, it would be great to have him here, although I do not know if the club are interested in him.

"I do not know if Barcelona would be perfect for him, but if there was a chance he could come here, he might become the best player in the world."

Lucas, introduced as a Bayern player on Monday, added: "Bayern are one of the biggest clubs in the world - and it will always be like that, everyone knows.

"They compete for the league every year and are always in the Champions League. Everyone in Italy, Spain, France and all of Europe sees and knows that."

The World Cup winner is taking Bayern great Philipp Lahm's number 21 shirt and acknowledges the need for him to subsequently deliver.

"That's a historic number," Lucas said. "A great former player like Philipp Lahm has worn it.

"Of course, it is an honour to be able to wear this number here and I will try to reward the club as much as possible."

Joao Felix has become by far Benfica's biggest ever sale after completing a €126million move to Atletico Madrid, continuing the Portuguese champions' strong record of raking in massive transfer fees.

What makes the 19-year-old attacking midfielder's move even more remarkable is the fact he has spent just one full season in the first team.

It was certainly a successful campaign, however, as the teenager scored 15 goals and set up another seven in 26 league appearances, earning his first senior Portugal cap in the Nations League Finals.

A fine dribbler, good finisher and blessed with outstanding technical ability, Joao Felix has huge expectations to match at Atletico, given he is likely to be Antoine Griezmann's replacement.

Benfica will be delighted to receive such a hefty fee, as they have done for a host of other stars in the past, including these six…

 

Ederson - €40m (Manchester City)                   

Like Joao Felix, Ederson only played one full season in Benfica's starting XI before earning a move away. Nevertheless, he has settled in seamlessly at Manchester City with his combination of world-class shot-stopping and passing ability, winning back-to-back Premier League titles and establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Axel Witsel - €40m (Zenit)

Tipped for big things early in his career, Benfica snapped Witsel up from Standard Liege in 2011 and sold him on a year later, with Zenit – not one of the traditional European heavyweights he was linked with – making the move. He spent five years in Russia, then a season in China, before joining Borussia Dortmund last year. The 30-year-old enjoyed a strong first term in Germany.

 

Raul Jimenez - €38m (Wolves)

Jimenez's adaptation to Europe after leaving Mexico's Club America was difficult and he made little impact at Atletico. Benfica brought him to Portugal after a year and are reported to have eventually paid €22m for him. Despite a modest scoring record, the Aguias are said to have received €38m for him from Wolves in April after a strong debut season on loan in England.

Nelson Semedo - €35m (Barcelona)

An attack-minded right-back, Semedo was identified as the potential solution to Barcelona's post-Dani Alves full-back issue in 2017 and they paid Benfica a reported €35m fee. He is yet to truly establish himself in the starting XI, though signs at the end of the 2018-19 season suggested he was beginning to win the battle with Sergi Roberto for the right-back spot.

Victor Lindelof - €35m (Manchester United)

Five years at Benfica – split between the first team and reserves – saw Lindelof develop into one of Europe's most highly rated young centre-backs, as he mixed technical ability with uncompromising defending. After months of speculation, United completed a deal in 2017. After a difficult first season Lindelof was linked with an exit, but he stayed and was one of few to impress at Old Trafford in 2018-19.

Renato Sanches - €35m (Bayern Munich)

Sanches broke into Benfica's starting XI as a teenager and impressed with his explosive style in midfield, earning himself a call-up to the Portugal squad, whom he helped to Euro 2016 success. His subsequent big-money move to Bayern has not worked out, however, while he also struggled on loan at Swansea City. A move away in the next couple of months is a real possibility.

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