Real Madrid omitted Gareth Bale 'as he preferred not to play' at Manchester City

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Zinedine Zidane did not select Gareth Bale in Real Madrid’s squad for their Champions League last-16 second leg against Manchester City on Friday as the Welshman “preferred not to play”.

Yet it is understood that Bale made the decision as he believed he would not be selected for a game in which Real need to overturn a 2-1 deficit, and so did not wish to travel.

Related: Bale’s long goodbye leaves Real with a big bill and only themselves to blame | Sid Lowe

Zidane was asked why he did not choose the Welshman. “People say a lot of things,” Real’s coach said. “We have respect between us. The only thing to say – and this is a personal conversation between us – is that he preferred not to play. The rest remains between me and him.

“I have explained what the situation is and I don’t want to add anything else. He’s not injured. Nothing else. I really respect him and all the other players. Things that happen in the dressing room stay there.”

Asked if Bale has a future at the club, Zidane said: “I don’t know. He is a current player of Real Madrid. That does not change anything. He is our player. I respect that and respect him. He prefers not to play. That’s all I can say. We are all here ready and prepared for the game and that’s all we are concentrating on.”

Bale came close to joining China’s Jiangsu Suning last summer in a £1m-a-week deal but the transfer never happened as Real subsequently demanded a fee and that blocked the move. It is understood there is little chance of a move to the Chinese Super League being revived due to rule changes last year.

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