Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is hoping Gareth Bale leaves the club in the summer transfer window and said the winger is "very close" to an exit.
Bale was left out of the squad for Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup despite being part of the travelling party for the pre-season tour.
Afterwards, the Madrid manager was asked about why Bale wasn't selected and spoke candidly about his desire to see the Welshman depart, per BBC Sport.
"We hope he leaves soon," Zidane said. "It would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team. I have nothing personal against him, but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done."
In the same report, it's noted the Frenchman said the 30-year-old is "very close" to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.
Sid Lowe of the Guardian was surprised at the manner in which Zidane spoke about the former Tottenham Hotspur star:
The comments come just a day after Zidane said it is "not a problem" if Bale stays at Real Madrid for the coming campaign. Bale still has three years left to run on his contract in the Spanish capital.
The player's agent, Jonathan Barnett, said he is working on his client's departure and called the Madrid manager a "disgrace" for what he perceives to be a lack of respect, per AFP's Tom Allnutt.
Speculation over Bale's future has gathered pace since Zidane was reappointed as manager by Los Blancos late last season.
In the latter stages of Zidane's first tenure in charge of Madrid, the Welshman fell out of favour. Bale handed Zidane with a parting gift, though, as he netted twice in the 2018 UEFA Champions League final win over Liverpool, including this stunning goal:
However, Zidane was drafted in again in 2018-19 after Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari endured disastrous spells in charge.
Madrid have backed Zidane in the summer transfer window, with Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo Goes arriving in big-money moves. It meant Bale's place in the squad was always going to be under threat. And following Saturday's comments, a departure feels inevitable for the Wales star.
Alex Shaw of ESPN was critical of the manner in which the Madrid boss has handled the situation:
Spanish football journalist Andrew Gaffney commented on how important Bale was in Zidane's previous success as Los Blancos boss:
Zidane won three Champions League titles in succession as Madrid manager, and as a result, he has a mandate to transform the squad as he sees fit, especially after such a disappointing campaign. Bale is clearly not part of those plans.
When he does leave, Bale's sale won't be lamented by Madridistas. Despite scoring some of the club's most iconic goals in recent years and winning the Champions League four times, the Santiago Bernabeu crowd has never taken to the player.