MADRID. — Gareth Bale trained for the first time under the orders of new Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane yesterday after missing the French legend’s inaugural session on Tuesday due to a minor muscle injury. Zidane has insisted that Bale, who has scored seven goals in his last five games, will be central to his plans despite reports in England that the Welshman had been unhappy with the sacking of Rafael Benitez after just seven months in charge on Monday.
“I can understand that he might feel aggrieved by Benitez’s departure but I will show him the same affection that he had from Rafa,” said Zidane.
“He’s a vital player for the team.”
Preparations for Zidane’s debut in senior management against Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday, after 18 months in charge of Madrid’s feeder team Castilla, continued with what the club described as a 90-minute long “strenuous session”.
Captain Sergio Ramos was not able to train with his teammates, though, due to an injury problem.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are prepared to make a £75million move for Bale this month, encouraged by signals from the Real Madrid star’s camp that he is ready to return to the English Premier League.
Bale’s future at the Bernabeu has been thrown into doubt following the decision of Real president Florentino Perez to axe head coach Benitez after seven months in charge.
That has alerted United who are weighing up a renewed effort to sign Bale, having maintained a close interest in the 26-year-old since he moved to Spain from Tottenham for a world record £86million in 2013.
Real have received enquiries about Bale from Old Trafford in every transfer window since then, and United will try again this month despite accepting that they might have a better chance in the summer.
Manchester City and Chelsea are the only other English clubs that could afford his wages of £300 000 a week, but Bale is understood to favour a move to United if he returns to England.
Ryan Giggs is one of his boyhood heroes and United believe their assistant manager, who is next in line to succeed Louis van Gaal, could be a key figure in attracting his fellow Welshman to Old Trafford.
However, former Real Madrid and Wales boss John Toshack is not the only one who believes that Bale was not as dependent on Benitez as some might suggest.
“I don’t see Benitez’s exit affecting Gareth at all,” said Toshack. “I don’t see that as a problem. Benitez was up against it right from the off.”
It is understood that Bale has been unhappy for some time with the political interference at Madrid, and resents the influence his team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo wields over the club.
Perez was said to have stepped in to offer him reassurances when he was having misgivings about the situation last summer despite helping Madrid lift their 10th European Cup.
Bale scored Real’s crucial second goal in a 4-1 win over neighbours Atletico in the Champions League final in Lisbon, and is comfortable that his time in Spain will be viewed as a success if he returns to England with three years left on a six-year contract. — AFP.