Gareth Bale

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Zidane bristles when asked why he didn’t use Bale

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Zinedine Zidane bristled when asked why he did not use Gareth Bale on Sunday in what could’ve been the Welsh forward’s last home match for Real Madrid.

It’s worth noting that Real had just lost 2-0 to Real Betis at the Bernabeu, and Zidane couldn’t have been in a decent mood as the wayward side finished third on the table.

[ MORE: Kompany finds new/old club ]

The 29-year-old Bale did not play in Real’s final three matches of the season, was blanked in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals against Ajax, and has not scored since March. He finished the season with 14 goals and six assists in 42 appearances. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I have counted on other players in more in recent weeks, and if I had a fourth substitute today I would not have brought him on.

“I make these decisions when it is right to do so, and I must act in the best interests of the team at all times.”

Zidane would not commit to Bale being with Madrid for their preseason tour of the United States, saying “anything could happen” while insinuating that the player was part of Real’s past.

Real Madrid blanked at home to end season with whimper

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If you needed any convincing on the heart of Real Madrid, or at least the lack thereof, look no further than Sunday.

Usually giants of world football, Zinedine Zidane’s side was the second-best Real on the day in a 2-0 home loss to Real Betis.

[ MORE: Kompany signed, hired by Anderlecht ]

Former Madrid striker Jese Rodriguez scored, as did Loren Moron, as Betis and Madrid each took nine shots at the Bernabeu. For Jese, it was only his second goal of the season.

Betis will finish 10th in La Liga, while third-place Real Madrid will finish between 18 and 21 points behind league-winning Barcelona.

Zidane did not play Gareth Bale in what probably would have been his final appearance with Real. The club will look much different next season, as it did this year without Cristiano Ronaldo.

If combustible president Florentino Perez wasn’t going to spend big before Sunday — spoiler alert: he was — the home result served to pour gasoline on the fire underneath his chair.

Real is expected to bring Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic to town this summer, and has been linked with approaches for Paul Pogba, Neymar, and

With Barcelona expected to land Antoine Griezmann, Perez’s men need to swing big. Barca beat Real 5-1 and 1-0 in league play, and dispatched Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinals 4-1 on aggregate.

Sarri says Chelsea fans must respect Hazard decision

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Maurizio Sarri stopped short of saying Eden Hazard was on his way out of Stamford Bridge this summer, but he came very close.

Speaking after a 0-0 draw with Leicester City that brought the Blues’ Premier League season to a close, Sarri said Chelsea fans need to appreciate the time Hazard spent at the club and understand he may want to move on.

[ MORE: Chelsea draws Leicester | Klopp proud ]

“I know very well that Eden tried to do his best for seven seasons at Chelsea,” Sarri said after the match. “He did very well, he has become one of the best two or three players in the world, but I think also that we have to respect him and his decision.”

There are rumors flying of Hazard’s impending move to Real Madrid this summer, so much so that some consider it a foregone conclusions. All signs point in that direction, with Hazard’s contract set to expire next summer and no extension reached as of yet, Chelsea’s purchase of USMNT star Christian Pulisic as well as Madrid’s reported shopping of Gareth Bale.

“I hope of course, like every fan of Chelsea, that he will remain with us,” Sarri added about Hazard. “But at the moment I don’t know.”

If this is indeed Hazard’s last season in London, he would finish his Chelsea career with 352 appearances across all competitions (including the upcoming Europa League final), scoring 108 goals and assisting 91 more. Hazard won the Premier League title with the Blues twice in 2014/15 and 2016/17, winning the Premier League Player of the Season award in the 2014/15 campaign as well. This season, he won the league’s assist title – named the Playmaker of the Season – racking up 15 assists to lead the league. He also won the Europa League once with Chelsea and has the opportunity to do so again with the upcoming final.

The 28-year-old came off the bench in the final league game of the year for the last 25 minutes against Leicester City, with Sarri admitting he rested Hazard as the Europa League final looms.

Bale’s agent insists Welsh international is ‘100 percent’ committed to Real Madrid

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Every week, the rumors and reports intensify stating this is for certain Gareth Bale‘s last spring at Real Madrid, with the Welshman set to depart after six years.

And yet again and again, Bale’s agent comes out to deny what appears to be nearly fact.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Speaking to the BBC, Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett insisted that Bale is happy and wants to remain at Real Madrid, despite clear disagreements with manager Zinedine Zidane.

“Gareth is 100 percent committed to Real Madrid,” Barnett told the BBC, adding that nothing had changed from Barnett’s recent statement that Bale wanted to finish his career wearing the famous white shirt of La Real.

It’s a surprising twist in a transfer saga that’s had enough to movement to satisfy even the hungriest transfer rumor fans among us. Bale seemed out a year ago, but his outstanding goal in the UEFA Champions League final effectively earned him another season at the Santiago Bernabeu, especially with on-field rival Cristiano Ronaldo gone to Juventus and Zidane deciding to resign before the summer.

And yet, Bale never lived up to the lofty expectations, and he’s certainly been present for some of the club’s most embarrassing results.

Bale has scored just 11 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions, as Real Madrid look set to fail to finish in the top two, as well as nearly 20 points behind Barcelona in what’s been a forgettable season.

Of course, the issue with Bale is that he can’t really move anywhere unless he’s willing to take a paycut, or Real Madrid are willing to offload him for a much-smaller fee than it paid for him. Bale’s depreciated badly and while he could still be world class in a specific system, there’s not many teams who seem built to take advantage of his speed and ability on the wings, along with a good, but not world class finishing ability.

Perhaps he could move back to Tottenham or even Manchester United, though with the latter, he may not be in the UEFA Champions League, which could give him pause.

Either way, expect the rumor mill to keep on churning, and we’ll see which way it turns for Bale in his ongoing transfer saga.

Zidane: Neymar, Hazard ‘compatible’ for Real Madrid

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Oh, Zizou, you rascal.

These comments will set the cat amongst the pigeons…

After Neymar stated in an interview that he would like to play with Eden Hazard and together they would “cause havoc” many believe that the duo could link up at Real Madrid this summer.

Asked about Neymar’s comments and if they could play together at Real, Zidane trod a fine line between backing up the comments and keeping his comments as general as he could.

“I think so. It is the same for many players because they know that this club is important,” Zidane said. “Many players, someday, want to play at this club. So it is normal. All the good players are compatible, always. They told me I would not be compatible with Youri Djorkaeff. Do you remember Djorkaeff? Absolute nonsense.”

Pushed further on what type of player he wants to add this summer as his second spell in charge of Real properly kicks off, Zidane wouldn’t name names.

“I am clear about what I want do and the profile of the players I want,” Zidane added. “I won’t be saying names but I have a clear idea of what I want to do and what I want to achieve.”

Pau Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have all been linked with moves to Real this summer, and the profile of player they are able to attract hasn’t changed despite a struggle on the pitch this season for the squad of players who won the UEFA Champions League title in each of the past three seasons.

It is clear that this Real Madrid squad will be broken up this summer, but it is unclear how much money they have to spend on new players and where they want to strengthen. If the likes of Neymar and Hazard are to arrive, then it is likely Gareth Bale will be sold and it looks likely Zidane will retool his attack, one which hasn’t really looked the same since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus last summer.

You could argue that in midfield they are ageing with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, but their quality remains, and in defense a long-term replacement for Sergio Ramos is needed, while Thibaut Courtois could already be on borrowed time at Real with Keylor Navas performing well in recent weeks with Courtois out injured.

In truth, Zidane needs to do a lot of strengthening but it is clear with his profile and that of Real Madrid’s, he won’t have to do too much persuading to get players on board.