Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said on Monday he had not “disrespected” Gareth Bale and it was the club who wanted to sell the Wales forward, not him personally.
Bale did not play for Real in their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup on Saturday, with Zidane having said his absence was due to the club “working on his departure.”
Bale’s agent labelled Zidane a “disgrace” following the comments but the Frenchman defended his conduct ahead of Real Madrid’s preseason clash with Arsenal in Washington, D.C.
“At times my Spanish is very suspect,” Zidane told reporters. “I want to be very clear about this. Firstly, I have not disrespected anybody and least of all the player.
“I have always said the same, the players are the most important and every time I am with a player here I will be with them always.
“Second thing, I said the club is trying to sell him. Third point, I think it is very important and crucial to say that the other day Gareth did not [play] because he did not want to.
“He will train with us today. He will train with the squad today but tomorrow is tomorrow.
“Gareth is a Real Madrid player. That is the most important thing, he is a player for the squad.”
While Zidane said Bale’s absence against Bayern was at the player’s request, Barnett told ESPN FC this was not the case. Bale, 30, has won four Champions League titles since joining Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for a then world record €100 million (£89.77 million) but he struggled to hold down his place in the starting side last season.