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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Zinedine Zidane denies Gareth Bale is sad at Real Madrid as he plays down Neymar speculation

Real in action on Sunday against Girona as they look to close the gap on second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane has denied Gareth Bale, right, is disillusioned with life at Real Madrid. Susana Vera / Reuters
Zinedine Zidane has denied Gareth Bale, right, is disillusioned with life at Real Madrid. Susana Vera / Reuters

Zinedine Zidane has dismissed the suggestion that Gareth Bale may be unhappy at Real Madrid.

The Welshman was a then world-record acquisition from Tottenham when he moved to the Bernabeu in 2013 but almost five years later questions are being asked about his future in Spain.

His former club Tottenham and Jose Mourinho's Manchester United have been linked with a possible move for Bale, whose injury troubles have seen his game time restricted this season and last.

Zidane, who himself was once the world's most expensive player when he moved in 2001 to Madrid from Juventus, scotched talk of Bale being disenchanted.

"Bale is not a sad player at Real Madrid," the head coach said. "Everyone can have their opinion, but I believe he is here and happy to be at this club. He has shown he is an important player in this team."

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Persistent speculation that Madrid will move for Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar in the summer continues to follow Zidane around.

Ahead of Sunday's Primera Liga clash with Girona, more questions about the Brazilian came the coach's way in his preview press conference.

Despite attempting to duck the issue he reasoned there was no reason a player of Neymar's quality should not fit into the Madrid set-up, where the BBC attacking trident of Karim Benzema, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo appears vulnerable to breaking up this summer.

"Good players can perform in any team and any position. They are compatible. What the club does will always depend on factors like this," Zidane said, according to Marca.

Zidane also said of Neymar: "People can say what they want, what the players say and what I say is always the same, that he is a good player but not ours."

Madrid know the league has gone this year, with Barcelona streaking clear at the top of the table and still unbeaten after 28 games. The target on the domestic front is second place, and Zidane's side trailed Atletico Madrid by seven points heading into the weekend.

"It's a very important goal," Zidane added.

Girona, promoted last year, sit seventh and stunned Madrid with a 2-1 win over the capital superstars in October.

On Sunday they will be targeting a remarkable double.

Coach Pablo Machin said: "We have to go out and compete and do what we know how to do, giving our maximum.

"Madrid compete in the same league as us, we are in the Primera, we've beaten them, and we'll go to the Bernabeu without fear."

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