Zidane: Bale has opted out of Champions League clash with City

'He preferred not to play. The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn't want to play,' claims boss as Gareth Bale's Real Madrid future in doubt
Zidane: Bale has opted out of Champions League clash with City
Gareth Bale: Real Madrid star won't be appearing in Friday's crucial Champions League second leg clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Picture: PA

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said Gareth Bale opted to miss tomorrow's Champions League clash against Manchester City.

Wales international Bale has fallen out of favour at the Bernabeu and featured little in the Spanish champions' title-winning run-in.

His omission from the travelling party for the last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium fuelled speculation over his future this week, but Zidane says that was the player's own choice.

Zidane said on Thursday: "It was a personal conversation I had with him. He preferred not to play. The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn't want to play."

Zidane was pressed further on the matter but refused to elaborate. "I answered before to explain the situation and I don't want to add anything else," he said. "The rest is a private conversation between player and coach. There is nothing else to add."

Asked if Bale had a future at Real, Zidane said: "I don't know. Now he is a current player at Real Madrid. That has not changed. He is our player. I respect that and I respect him, like everyone else.

"He preferred not to play. That is the only thing I can tell you. The rest of us are all here, preparing for the game. The only thing we are concentrating on is the game."

Meanwhile, with captain Sergio Ramos out of Friday's crucial second leg due to suspension, Raphael Varane has vowed to shoulder the responsibilities.

Ramos was sent off in the latter stages of the first game at the Bernabeu in February.

Defender Varane said: "We know the importance of Sergio and how vital he is, but we all know our roles. It is a tough game with or without Sergio.

"I help my team-mates, I like to cover other players. I speak in the dressing room. To win we have to be a strong group. That is not going to change."

Real need to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg at the Bernabeu to maintain their hopes of a record-extending 14th European title.

City midfielder Rodri has said he believes the English side are stronger than Real but must now go and prove it.

Varane said: "That is his opinion, but we are aware of our qualities. We know we are up against a very good side, but we will give it everything to try to go through."

Zidane, indeed, believes his players are ready for the challenge. "We are in good shape," Zidane said. "We prepare ourselves to play this type of game. We have known for a long time what we need to do.

"We are focused and it is another final for us. It is a knockout-stage game and we are going to try to put in a great performance."

Zidane said former Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard, who has endured an injury-hit season, was fit to feature after overcoming an ankle problem.

Zidane said: "It is true he was feeling it a bit towards the end of the (LaLiga) season, but now he is much better than he was. We have had a lot of time to prepare for this game and I think he is OK and full of confidence."

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