Zidane insists Bale is 'crucial' part of Madrid squad

2018-03-09 16:47:58

Zinedine Zidane has insisted Gareth Bale remains a "crucial" part of Real Madrid's plans despite increased speculation linking the Welshman with a big-money return to the Premier League next season.

Rumours have reignited over Bale's future since he was forced to start on the bench for Real's 2-1 Champions League win over Paris St Germain on Tuesday.

But Zidane is adamant Bale is not going anywhere and is likely to restore him to his starting line-up when Real face the potentially difficult trip to eighth-placed Eibar on Saturday.

Zidane told a press conference: "Gareth is not lacking anything. He is part of a squad full of good players. He didn't start in either of the last 16 games (against Paris) but I haven't got any problem with him.

"There is no problem with him being on the bench - I spoke with him and he knows what it's about. I pick a team every three days and for me Gareth is crucial - but there are other important players as well."

Real's win over PSG lifted some of the pressure on Zidane, whose team languish in third place in LaLiga, 15 points behind leaders Barcelona, and will plunge back into crisis if they fail to win in Ipurua.

"I'm not here to convince anyone," Zidane said. "I don't want to change people's opinions. Right now everyone is saying I'm the best, a tactician, but it's ridiculous - if I lose to Eibar they'll say I'm the worst.

"It's hard to stay at the top level throughout the course of the season. When you drop points on the teams above and a gap opens up, it's difficult.

"But in our work day to day this is my message - that we will not give in. LaLiga is not finished. We're going to keep fighting because anything can happen in football."

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