Snubbed Bale stays in Spain af­ter ask­ing not to travel with Real

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Mike McGrath

Gareth Bale asked not to travel for Real Madrid’s clash against Manch­ester City in the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter be­ing told by Zine­dine Zi­dane he would be sit­ting in the stands at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

Bale, who trained with the first team this week, held talks with Zi­dane ahead of the trip for the sec­ond leg of the last-16 tie and was in­formed he would not be among the sub­sti­tutes to face Pep Guardi­ola’s team tonight.

Zi­dane con­firmed the Wales for­ward’s re­quest not to travel was granted and a 24-man squad flew to Eng­land, which in­cluded Ser­gio

Ramos de­spite his sus­pen­sion for the clash, which City lead 2-1.

“We have re­spect be­tween man­ager and player,” said the Real man­ager. “It’s clear the only thing from a per­sonal con­ver­sa­tion, he pre­ferred not to play. The rest is be­tween me and him. But he didn’t want to play.

“He’s not in­jured. He’s our player, I re­spect him like ev­ery­one else. He prefers not to play. The rest are all here and pre­pared for the game and that’s the only thing we are con­cen­trat­ing on.”

Dis­cussing the City tie was a rare con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the pair.

They are not on reg­u­lar speak­ing terms and barely look at each other at Real’s train­ing ground, with their re­la­tion­ship bro­ken.

Bale broke the world-record trans­fer fee when he ar­rived from Tot­ten­ham for more than £85mil­lion, but he was an un­used substitute for six games to­wards the end of the La Liga sea­son, then left out of Zi­dane’s match-day squad on the fi­nal day of the cam­paign. Zi­dane pub­licly stated it would be “best for ev­ery­one” if Bale left when he re­turned for his sec­ond spell as man­ager, yet the 31-year-old has two sea­sons left on his deal and is set to see out his con­tract un­til 2022.

Madrid have ad­mit­ted they made a mis­take block­ing Bale’s £1 mil­liona-week move to China last sum­mer when per­sonal terms had been agreed for him to leave the Bern­abeu. Jiangsu Sun­ing were will­ing to make him among the best-paid play­ers in the world by tak­ing on a free trans­fer, only for Bale’s club to de­mand a fee in the fi­nal stages of the deal. One year on and the coro­n­avirus pan­demic spend­ing.

“We made a mis­take by not al­low­ing the deal to go through, but no­body could see the Covid-19 sit­u­a­tion com­ing at that time,” said a source at the Bern­abeu. “We ex­pect him to be at the club for the next two years.”

Bale’s deal at Real is worth £600,000 a week and clubs have pri­ori­tised get­ting max­i­mum value for their trans­fer bud­gets fol­low­ing a pan­demic that has stopped pay­ing cus­tomers com­ing through the turn­stiles. It means the former Tot­ten­ham for­ward will be stay­ing in Madrid, where he en­joys the life­style af­ter seven years in Spain. has halted

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