Zinedine Zidane Confirms Talks with Gareth Bale About Staying at Real Madrid

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2019

PONTEVEDRA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid  during the La Liga Santander  match between Celta de Vigo v Real Madrid at the Estadio de Balaidos on August 17, 2019 in Pontevedra Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has spoken to Gareth Bale about staying with the club this summer.

Bale has been linked with a departure from the club throughout the transfer window and came close to joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning in July.

Per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan, after Bale started Real's La Liga opener on Saturday, Zidane said: "We spoke before the game, two or three times, to say he was staying. Gareth's game, like all of them, was very good. He is just thinking of the new season, and playing."

Prior to the Welshman's failed move to China, Zidane said a swift exit from the Santiago Bernabeu would be best for Bale.

When asked what had changed in the intervening period, he said: "Nothing has changed. We are all now just thinking about the season. Gareth, James [Rodriguez], all the players, just want to do the best possible to defend this shirt."

Bale was a surprise starter on Saturday for Real's clash with Celta Vigo at Balaidos, helping Los Blancos to a 3-1 win. He came in for summer signing Eden Hazard, who suffered a hamstring injury in training ahead of the game.

As Corrigan noted, Bale did not start a single game in pre-season:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Bale played just 101 minutes across Madrid's six pre-season games, in three substitute apps. Did look pretty bright off bench against Roma last weekend.

Despite that, he impressed from the outset, showcasing his pace in attack and a willingness to track back and prevent crosses into the box. Zidane singled out the 30-year-old and Vinicius Junior to praise them for their defensive work rate.

He assisted Karim Benzema's opener after just 12 minutes, picking out the Frenchman with a cross after some good work on the left.

As AS' Robbie Dunne observed, Bale was frequently an outlet for Real in attack:

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

And Bale is Madrid’s Plan A, B and C today. He’s an option every time over the top and they’re looking for him almost every time.

Managing Madrid's Kiyan Sobhani was pleased with the Welshman's performance:

Kiyan Sobhani @KiyanSo

Bale in this rhythm is a huge asset. Body language looks good, he's helping Odriozola defensively, switching flanks, providing a target, making great passes. Needed this last season, but only got it a handful of times. Hope he sustains it.

With the transfer windows closed in China and the Premier League, and with Serie A to follow suit on Friday, there are few options left for Bale if he were to leave this summer. 

Sport reported Hazard could be out for up to a month, so after an impressive start to the campaign on Saturday, Bale has a significant opportunity to stake a claim in Zidane's team in the coming weeks.