Zinedine Zidane claims Gareth Bale "preferred not to play" vs Man City

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has sensationally claimed that Gareth Bale has been left out of the squad to face Manchester City because he has refused to play.

There were eyebrows raised on Wednesday when Bale was not named among the 24-man squad to travel to Manchester for the second leg of Madrid's Champions League last-16 clash with City.

Bale's relationship with Zidane is thought to be at an all-time low, with the Welshman having played just 100 minutes of football since the end of lockdown.

And speaking ahead of Friday's huge match, Zidane lifted the lid on the situation with the 31-year-old.

"Many things have been said but we have a respectful relationship between the club and player," Zidane said. "But all I'll say is he preferred to not play. The rest is between us and him."

He later added: "Bale didn't disappoint me. I'm not going to tell you anything. It's the third question about Gareth, I just said what happened.

"I have a lot of respect for Gareth and things should be inside the locker room between the players and the coach."

The tie is poised on a knife edge, with City 2-1 up following the first leg at the Bernabeu, and Zidane is clearly looking forward to the occasion.

"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, what I can tell you is that it's going to be a good football match, between two very good teams," he continued.

"We know how the one-way ended. We face this final knowing things and nothing more."

It remains to be seen if Bale is moved on this summer, with the player previously claiming he is willing to see out his contract, which runs until the end of the 2021-22 season, but it would be a surprise to see him play another match under Zidane at the club.

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