Unsurprisingly, Gareth Bale is not on the list of the 24-man Real Madrid squad that will battle against Manchester City on Friday's Champions League match. According to team manager Zinedine Zidane, the Welshman was dropped because he is unwilling to play.
Bale's non-inclusion largely mirrors his notable absence from the pitch for most of the season. He is free of injury but the 31-year-old only played 16 games for Real Madrid in all competitions. Zidane said Bale not on the pitch for many instances were due to technical decision.
However, the player not appearing on the Champions League match seemed far from being tactical. He was a prominent figure when Real last won the title two seasons ago. Bale netted twice when Los Blancos defeated Liverpool in 2018, as recalled by Goal.
The times though are different now. Zidane is known to be not too fond of the Welshman and the boss has made clear on numerous occasions that Bale has no place on his Real Madrid game plan. The upcoming showdown with City seemed no different.
Yet again, Bale will not be part of the squad as seen in many Real games in the season. Zidane said the winger is out of the UCL game because he doesn't want to play.
"The only thing I can say is that he has decided not to play, and the rest is between him and me," the Frenchman was reported as saying.
Zidane added that amid the speculations of a rift between him and Bale, their relationship as coach and player is still governed by respect.
BBC said it looked like that Bale was not given much of an option for the UCL game. The Real man opted out because he knew in advance that no playing minutes are allocated for him.
"Bale decided not to travel to Manchester because he knew he had no chance of being involved in the match," said the report.
The Welshman seemingly forced to again skip an important game further heightened the speculations that he will be out Madrid soon. But Bale did stress recently that despite his icy relationship with Zidane and the prospect of not seeing playing time, he will see out his existing contract with Real.
The Bale predicament, according to Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero, will only see an ending if the player is given a favorable exit. Montero understood that the winger is willing to leave Real provided he's headed to a preferred destination, which is not China as earlier reported.
"He didn't want to go to China. He wants to return to the Premier League," Sport Bible reported Montero as saying.
The analyst, however, explained that Bale's high salary will prevent interested teams from making a deal, meaning that in reality the player is stuck with Real until his deal runs out in June 2022.