Zinedine Zidane has no qualms with Gareth Bale continuing to play golf, even though Wales may not allow the Real Madrid forward on courses during Euro 2020.

This week, Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford said he did not want players "risking their fitness by playing golf" as he scouts out potential training bases for Ryan Giggs' squad next year.

That could mean Bale is unable to partake in his favourite hobby, with the 30-year-old drawing the ire of Los Blancos fans when he posed with a 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order' flag last month as Wales qualified for the Euros.

Bale is currently out injured with a hamstring problem, yet Zidane insists he will not follow the FAW's lead when it comes to keeping him off the golf course.

"I'm going to give you my reply, the club might say something different," Zidane told a news conference to preview Real Madrid's clash with Espanyol.

"As Real Madrid manager I'm not going to stop my players doing anything in their free time.

"They're mature enough and they need to know what they need to do."

Zidane revealed Bale trained on Friday but "not as the same intensity as his team-mates", and he will likely miss Saturday's game along with Eden Hazard and Marcelo, who have respective ankle and calf problems.

Media reports suggested Hazard is set to miss El Clasico against Barcelona on December 18 due to the injury, with Zidane confirming the problem was worse than first feared.

"It's always bad news when a player gets injured," Zidane said.

"Of course he's upset that he's unavailable. It might be a bit more concerning, the injury, than we first thought.

"We will have to see, but he will be back with the rest of the players soon."

Hazard made a slow start to life at Madrid and has still scored just once in LaLiga, but Zidane feels he was rediscovering the type of form he showed at Chelsea prior to picking up the injury against Paris Saint-Germain last week.

"It's a very bad piece of news that we've lost Eden Hazard to injury as we have some very big games coming up," Zidane added.

"He had been playing very well and I'm sure he will again in the future. It's not good when you have players out injured, especially a player like Eden Hazard.

"He was in great form. We've seen him play very well, he had reproduced that form that we had seen before in England. It's a setback and hopefully he won't be out for long."

Gareth Bale's agent says the Wales forward has never asked to leave Real Madrid even though he is "not ecstatic" at the club.

Bale's relationship with Madrid's fans, coaching staff and the Spanish media has become strained this year.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said in July it would be "best for everyone" if Bale left the club ahead of a proposed switch to China's Jiangsu Suning.

However, the deal collapsed and the 30-year-old has remained with the LaLiga side.

Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett said the player has never requested a move away from Madrid.

"He has never asked to leave," Barnett told the BBC's Euro Leagues Podcast.

"He has a contract with Real Madrid and as long as they want him, there's not much anyone can do about it.

"No-one has ever accused him of not giving 100 per cent and a 100 per cent Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world. The coach should be happy and honoured he is on the pitch for him.

"There's no guarantee he is leaving. If the right opportunity came along for him and it's something he wants to do, we have to have a chat with the president of Real Madrid and see where we are."

Barnett acknowledged Bale, who has won the Champions League four times and LaLiga with Madrid, was not thrilled to still at the club.

"He's not ecstatic," Barnett added, when asked whether Bale was happy at the Bernabeu.

"He has got a contract and as long as he is a Real Madrid player he will play at 100 per cent – and do very well. 

"He wants to win the championship and the European championship and everything else. It will not affect his performance.

"The facts and figures prove if he is on the field for Real Madrid they have a better chance of winning."

Bale held a flag up, after Wales beat Hungary in a Euro 2020 qualifier, which claimed he put his country and time on the golf course ahead of Madrid.

"It was directed only to the media because they had been writing very infantile and stupid stories from people that do not know him," Barnett said of the 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order' banner.

"The truth is he has done fantastically for Real Madrid in the years he has been there and helped them win so much."

The former Real Madrid star whose words inspired the infamous "WALES. GOLF. MADRID" flag hopes criticism of Gareth Bale has come to an end.

Predrag Mijatovic, scorer of 44 goals for Madrid in the late 1990s, fuelled negative fan opinion against the 30-year-old winger when he questioned Bale's priorities in an October interview.

"[The perception is] the first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid," Mijatovic, 50, was quoted as telling radio station Cadena SER.

Wales fans adapted the comments into a light-hearted chant and later a banner, which Bale posed behind following last month's triumph over Hungary.

The former Tottenham star was celebrating qualification for Euro 2020 but several Spanish media outlets perceived his actions to be a slight against Madrid.

He was met with jeers every time he touched the ball on his next appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu, a 3-1 LaLiga win against Real Sociedad.

"My intention was not this, I have already said that Bale has great qualities as a footballer and I have always liked him," Mijatovic told AS TV.

"It is true that he makes mistakes on some occasions and we have to comment on him as former players and former directors, but I don't want any more controversies, nor the flag to play a leading role.

"What I want is for Madrid to play well and win all the possible titles. I'd rather not say anything else [about Bale] because we're going to bring it all up again.

"The most important thing is that Bale is back, he's playing and that's what we all want."

Mijatovic spent three seasons with Madrid during his playing career, notably scoring the goal that secured victory against Juventus in the 1998 Champions League final.

He served as the club's sporting director from 2006 to 2009.

Zinedine Zidane named Gareth Bale in Real Madrid's starting XI and left Thibaut Courtois on the bench for Saturday's meeting with Deportivo Alaves.

Madrid had the chance to go top of LaLiga, at least temporarily, with a point and four changes were made to the team that conceded two late goals in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain in midweek.

Eden Hazard's absence as the result of an ankle injury gave Wales international Bale the chance to start at club level for the first time since October 5.

The 30-year-old winger angered Los Blancos supporters last week when he posed in front of a flag that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER".

Eder Militao took the place of Raphael Varane, who reportedly suffered a knock against PSG, while loanee Alphonse Areola got the nod in goal as head coach Zidane shuffled his pack for a third game in seven days.

Luka Modric came into midfield for Fede Valverde, who joined Vinicius Junior on the bench.

Zidane declared the little-used Brazilian attacker would not be sent out on loan in January, but it remained to be seen if he would get an opportunity to impress against the competition's 13th-placed team.

There were enough sub-plots for Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain to be turned into a feature-length film before a ball had even been kicked at the Santiago Bernabeu.

By the end of 90 breathless, pulsating and sheer joy-inducing minutes there were enough storylines to make a franchise that could rival even the lucrative Marvel series.

For 81 of those, Zinedine Zidane and his expensively assembled squad of Galacticos were almost tactically flawless.

The decision to hand Isco a first start in six weeks appeared truly inspired. The short, sharp passing in a midfield trio alongside Federico Valverde and Casemiro had PSG – who had dominated the same opponents 3-0 on matchday one – chasing white shirts with about as much success as an excitable dog longing to reach its tail.

If that problem wasn't big enough then the one caused by Eden Hazard would have given PSG's defence and head coach Thomas Tuchel nightmare-filled sleep for the foreseeable future.

Injury woes early in his Madrid career have meant it has taken Hazard a little while to get up to speed in the Spanish capital.

But for 70 minutes here, Hazard was utterly joyous – try as you might, taking your eyes of this Rolls Royce of a footballer was an impossible task.

Hazard was full of the sort of invention, creativity and genius nuances that convinced Madrid to part with over €100million to prise him from Chelsea.

It was as much a blow to the neutrals watching when Hazard was helped off the pitch following a strong challenge from Belgium team-mate Thomas Meunier as it was to Zidane and his Madrid team-mates.

That Hazard departing the pitch through injury became almost a footnote tells a story in itself about this classic of the Champions League genre.

Karim Benzema's second goal in the 79th minute should have been the cherry atop of a scrumptious cake for Madrid, who despite Zidane's protestations to the contrary would have had revenge in mind.

Granted it had taken a helping hand from the VAR, another of football's most divisive modern issues, to get that point.

The decision to overturn a red card for Thibaut Courtois – who rashly wiped out Mauro Icardi – for the softest of fouls from Idrissa Gueye on Marcelo earlier in the move appeared certain to dominate the narrative.

Even accounting for that let-off, it was another side-note in a game swimming with them that kept Madrid at bay.

Keylor Navas, who left for PSG having fallen behind Courtois in the goalkeeper pecking order at Madrid, was in inspired form – Benzema and Isco particularly left frustrated by his brilliance. That he was received so well by the home crowd speaks volumes of his contribution over five trophy-laden years at the Bernabeu.

Indeed it was his heroics that allowed Kylian Mbappe – the man so desired by Los Blancos fans – to take an almighty spanner and throw it directly into the works.

Those familiar with the story know Madrid have not exactly been quiet in expressing their admiration for the World Cup winner. Heck, even this week Zidane publicly declared his love for the rapid forward, who it is hard to imagine will not one day don the famous white of Madrid.

That love may have dwindled a little when Mbappe capitalised on a lack of communication between Courtois and Raphael Varane to hand PSG a precious lifeline.

Two minutes later, the irony will not have been lost on Zidane that the man to deny Madrid what would, in truth, have been a deserved victory to keep their hopes of finishing top of Group A alive was Pablo Sarabia – a player who graduated through the youth ranks at the Bernabeu.

Remarkably, only the width of a post denied one final twist and one so tantalisingly delicious it would not have been out of place in an M. Night Shyamalan film.

Gareth Bale, a man much derided by his own fans and the Spanish media for his 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER' banner celebration after Wales qualified for Euro 2020, stood poised over a free-kick 30 yards from goal.

This particular narrative only narrowly failed to play out. Had it done so the reactions would have been incredulity, shock and uncontrollable laughter. In that order.

When the dust settles, Zidane will analyse with forensic scrutiny Madrid's failure to first kill the contest through the numerous chances they created, and second to manage the game when two up with 10 minutes to go.

But for anyone without an affiliation for either of these two giants of European football, the only thing to do was sit back, jaws gaping, as the credits rolled on a match worthy of any big screen.

Thibaut Courtois has no doubt that Gareth Bale is committed to Real Madrid following the Wales star's controversial return to LaLiga action on Saturday.

Bale was introduced as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 win over Real Sociedad and was greeted by a mixture of boos and applause from the Santiago Bernabeu faithful.

It marked Bale's first appearance for Madrid since October and came at the end of a week in which he celebrated Wales' Euro 2020 qualification behind a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER".

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions of Bale among the Spanish press, who have accused the former Tottenham player of pushing Madrid down his list of priorities.

Courtois would not be drawn on whether he believes the reception that greeted Bale was harsh, but is confident the 30-year-old remains committed to playing for the Spanish giants.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain, the Belgium international said: "You love your country and that comes before where you are playing, but he is involved every day and is a professional. 

"He was very involved when he came on and generated a lot of danger. [Luka] Modric's goal came from a cross of his. If he wasn't committed, he wouldn't play like that.

"We are here to win games. What has happened, has happened. He gives everything in training and matches to help us win. The Bernabeu has its opinion and I am not in a position to comment on that."

Madrid suffered a humbling 3-0 defeat to PSG in their opening Group A game in September, but Courtois insists Los Blancos will not have revenge on their minds during Tuesday's fixture.

"I wouldn't say revenge," he added. "The match helped us to learn. We have improved a lot lately and we will see where we are.

"We have to be strong and not make mistakes. It will be a great game from the first second until the last."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane called on fans to stop booing Gareth Bale following the Wales star's return to LaLiga action on Saturday.

Bale came on in the second half of the 3-1 win over Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu and was greeted by an unhappy chorus from sections of the crowd.

Although some fans applauded the player, Bale was then subjected to jeers with every touch of the ball as Madrid saw out a win that moved them level on points with LaLiga leaders Barcelona.

It was Bale's first appearance for Madrid since October and came at the end of a week in which he risked the wrath of Madrid fans and media by celebrating Wales' Euro 2020 qualification near a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER".

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions of Bale among the Spanish press, who have accused the former Tottenham player of pushing Madrid down his list of priorities.

Zidane, who was pleased with Bale's performance, accepts he cannot control fan reactions but called for the player to be supported for the rest of 2019-20.

"I hope this isn't constant this season. We want the fans to be with us from beginning to end, but we can't control that," he told reporters.

"The fans have the right to do what they want, but I ask that they applaud everyone. I focus on the game and the victory, and Bale came into the game very well.

"I haven't spoken with him; I've only congratulated him.

"I can't say if it's unfair or not. Everyone can say what they want. We need our fans. After that, we can't control what happens.

"There is too much noise with Bale. He wants to be with us and he wants to do well. That's why we don't want to talk too much. He is part of the group and wants to play like everyone else."

Madrid fell behind when Willian Jose scored after just two minutes following an error from captain Sergio Ramos, but they fought back through goals from Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Luka Modric.

"I'm happy. We didn't start well with the ball - we were very slow. Then, the end of the first half was very good and the start of the second, too," said Zidane.

"We're happy because there was a very good team facing us. We're happy for the three points."

Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the summit of LaLiga after coming from behind to beat Real Sociedad 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Barca had edged past Leganes earlier in the day to open up a three-point lead over their bitter rivals but Zinedine Zidane's side registered a second consecutive league win to rejoin them on 28 points.

Willian Jose took advantage of a woeful mistake by Sergio Ramos to put Sociedad ahead in the second minute but Karim Benzema restored parity before half-time.

Federico Valverde – who opened his Madrid account in the 4-0 win over Eibar before the international break – completed the turnaround shortly after the restart before Luka Modric sealed all three points 16 minutes from time.

Gareth Bale was introduced as a second-half substitute by Zidane and was greeted by a mixture of whistles and cheers from Madrid supporters after holding a banner following Wales' win over Hungary in midweek that read: 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER'.

Sociedad were gifted the lead inside the opening two minutes thanks to a moment of madness from Ramos.

The Madrid captain's backpass to Thibaut Courtois was cut out by Willian Jose, who took a touch past the Belgium international and rolled into an empty net.

Alex Remiro got down well to keep out Ferland Mendy's powerful drive soon after, while at the other end Courtois had to beat away Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard's fierce effort.

Madrid conjured up a scarcely deserved leveller eight minutes before the interval when Benzema used his chest to steer home Luka Modric's free-kick from six yards.

They started the second half with a spring in their step and forged ahead in the 47th minute when Valverde's shot from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Mikel Oyarzabal to wrongfoot Remiro.

Bale shrugged off his hostile reception to play a part in Madrid's third. His cross from the right was headed down into Modric's path by Benzema and the Croatian lashed a fine half-volley past Remiro to add gloss to the scoreline.


What does it mean? Madrid march on against tough opposition

After a challenging start to the season Madrid are now on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions and look well set for a mouth-watering duel with Barca for the league title. They were far from their fluid best against Imanol Alguacil's side but Zidane will be pleased to overcome a Sociedad outfit who have been in stellar from so far this season.

Benzema's fine campaign continues

The former France international has been in wonderful form this season. He again showed why Zidane has so much faith in him, pulling Madrid level with his 10th league goal and then teeing up Modric's third with a precise header.

Ramos gives Sociedad a helping hand

The Madrid captain gift-wrapped Sociedad's opener with as careless a display of defending as the Santiago Bernabeu faithful are likely to witness this season. He will be a relieved man that it did not matter in the end.

What's next?

Madrid host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday before returning to domestic action on Saturday with a visit to Deportivo Alaves. Sociedad, meanwhile, welcome Eibar to Anoeta on Saturday.

Gareth Bale could make his first LaLiga appearance since October 5 after he was named on a star-studded Real Madrid bench for the home game against Real Sociedad.

Forward Bale has not featured for his club since the 4-2 win over Granada at the start of last month, though he has played four times for Wales since that outing.

The 30-year-old was on international duty during the week, helping Ryan Giggs' squad secure a place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Hungary. He celebrated after the final whistle, dancing and singing with a banner that read:  'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER' 

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions of Bale among the Spanish media, who have accused the former Tottenham player of pushing Madrid down his list of priorities.

Prior to Saturday's game with Sociedad, Zinedine Zidane called for the Madrid fans to get behind Bale, who almost moved to China earlier in the year.

Bale will wait to find out if the Santiago Bernabeu faithful take their head coach's advice, depending on whether he is involved during proceedings in the capital.

Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Isco are also substitutes for Madrid, with the only change from the XI that started the 4-0 win over Eibar seeing Rodrygo Goes replace the injured Lucas Vazquez.

Gareth Bale has been included in Real Madrid's squad for their LaLiga encounter with Real Sociedad despite the controversy caused by his celebrations after Wales' successful Euro 2020 qualification.

Wales booked their place at next year's finals with a 2-0 win over Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday.

Bale, who has not played for Madrid since October 5, featured from the start for Ryan Giggs' side and was pictured after the match singing and dancing behind a banner that read: 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER'.

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions among the Spanish media, who have accused Bale of bumping Madrid down his list of priorities and spending too much time on the golf course.

Those celebrations drew further criticism from sections of the Madrid press and Los Blancos' fanbase, but Zidane – whose relationship with Bale has reportedly been a troubled one – claimed on Friday that the issue had been overblown.

Zidane has now included Bale in his squad for Saturday's clash with Sociedad, who would move above Madrid with a win at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Bale's inclusion comes at the expense of Vinicius Junior, with the teenage winger missing out on the 19-man selection.

Vinicius has made eight appearances in LaLiga this term, though only four of those have been starts.

Zinedine Zidane has called for the Real Madrid fans to get behind Gareth Bale despite his well-publicised Wales celebrations this week.

Bale was pictured behind a banner that read 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER' following his country's 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday that secured them qualification to Euro 2020.

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions among the Spanish media, who have accused Bale of bumping Madrid down his list of priorities and spending too much time on the golf course.

Bale's celebration drew the ire of Madrid fans and many in the national media with Marca leading with the headline 'DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER'.

But Madrid head coach Zidane defended Bale, who almost left for China in the close-season, and urged the club's supporters to get behind the former Tottenham man.

"Those who really support the club, those who come to the stadium, know he's a Real Madrid player," he said.

"You shouldn't look at what goes on elsewhere, you have to support the team, the players, have to get behind the side.

"I will always support my players. Things might go on outside the Real Madrid environment but we're in this together."

Zidane was quizzed repeatedly about Bale ahead of Saturday's home game with Real Sociedad and was quick to highlight the player's achievements in Spain.

He added: "I think sometimes people go over the top with this topic, everyone has their point of view, we're here to focus on football. 

"I think now it's almost the snowball effect. I mean he was fit and could play with the national team, he's here, available and we're delighted. 

"He's done a lot for this club. I'm only concerned with the sporting side. I'm not here to speak about the rest, I'm not interested. I know a lot of people are but not me."

Gareth Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett said the Real Madrid star's "WALES. GOLF. MADRID… IN THAT ORDER" flag celebration was "meant for the media" amid backlash.

Bale caused a stir in Cardiff on Tuesday, when he was pictured laughing and celebrating in front of a fan-made banner after Wales qualified for Euro 2020.

Tipped to leave Madrid and criticised for his priorities amid his love for golf, Wales fans have adopted the chant, "Wales, golf, Madrid", which was heard during the international break.

Spanish newspaper Marca's frontpage on Thursday read: "DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER".

But speaking to ESPN, Barnett insisted there were "no worries" for Bale ahead of his return to Madrid.

Bale, who has not featured for Madrid since October, is set to appear for the club's LaLiga meeting against Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

The 30-year-old has scored two goals in seven appearances across all competitions this season.

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.

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."

Jose Mourinho seemingly has Gareth Bale in his Tottenham plans, but he will have to wait until before the start of next season.

Mourinho was named Spurs head coach on Wednesday, a day after the Premier League club sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of talk around his potential movements in the transfer market – including a Tottenham return for Bale.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO EYES BALE, BUT CAN'T SPEND IN JANUARY

Mourinho's arrival at Tottenham offers Bale the perfect escape route from Real Madrid, according to AS.

The star attacker left Spurs for Madrid in 2013, but is set to leave the LaLiga giants at season's end, the report says.

Marca reports Madrid have ruled out a January exit for Bale. That would suit Mourinho, who has been told there is no money to spend in the January window, according to The Guardian.

ROUND-UP

- Mourinho has more pressing matters at Spurs. The Mirror reports Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are out of contract at season's end, are intrigued by the prospect of working under Mourinho and are open minded about their futures.

- It could have been different for Spurs. According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was Tottenham's first choice before they turned to Mourinho.

- Meanwhile, the sacked Pochettino may not be out of management for too long. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are ready to pounce for the former Spurs manager, according to The Sun. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at Camp Nou, while interim boss Hansi Flick will coach Bayern until at least the end of the year.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be getting closer to sorting out his future. Sky Sport reports AC Milan spoke to the departing LA Galaxy striker's agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday about the possibility of a return to San Siro.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in no rush to renew his Arsenal contract and with good reason. Sport reports the forward is waiting to find out how serious Barcelona's interest in him is before extending a deal that runs until 2021.

- Needing a striker, Manchester United are considering a January move for Roma's Edin Dzeko, according to ESPN FC. Dzeko has scored five goals in 12 Serie A games this season, and United are looking to finally bolster their attack after losing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the close season.

- Olivier Giroud has made just one Premier League start for Chelsea this season and the striker could be set for a January exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are considering a move for Giroud in January as they look for a back-up for Lukaku.

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