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31st May 2018

Why Zinedine Zidane leaving Real Madrid means Gareth Bale is likely to stay

Sorry Man United fans

Robert Redmond

Zinedine Zidane has quit as Real Madrid manager.

Zidane made the surprise announcement at a press conference in the Spanish capital on Thursday afternoon, less than a week after he helped guide Madrid to their third Champions League title in three years.

Since taking charge of the first-team in January 2016, after Rafa Benitez was sacked, the former France midfielder has achieved phenomenal success. In addition to his three European Cup wins, Zidane oversaw Real’s La Liga title win last season and two World Club Cup crowns.

He has won more Champions League titles than he has completed full seasons as a manager and was probably wise to walk away while at the top.

Back in January, with Madrid miles behind Barcelona in La Liga, there were suggestions that the club were preparing to sack Zidane, and three seasons is possibly the natural lifespan for a manager at the club.

Since announcing his surprise decision, several Madrid players have wished their former coach well.

Gareth Bale has yet to post a social media message about Zidane. According to reports, the pair have not seen eye to eye over the last season or two, and Zidane was the main reason why Bale suggested he may leave the club – with Manchester United a possible destination. The Welsh forward was dropped for the Champions League final but made his presence felt when he came on for the final 30 minutes.

After scoring twice in the game against Liverpool, Bale told reporters that he will need to make a decision about his future with Real as he hasn’t played as regularly as he would have liked over the past 18-months.

According to Paul Joyce, writing in The Times, the relationship between Bale and Zidane was “strained” and the pair had a row last season after the Frenchman told Bale to track opposition full-backs and help his teammates when they lost possession. The forward didn’t think he should have to do this and Zidane responded by dropping him from the first team. The Welshman made 39 appearances last season – 13 of those came as a substitute – and he only completed the full match on 10 occasions.

The former Tottenham star said following the Champions League final that he had not spoken to Zidane, despite scoring the decisive goals in Kiev, and it appears there was no love lost between the pair. The report claims that Bale’s representatives are due to meet Madrid president Florentino Perez within the next two weeks to discuss the player’s future. Those talks may be easier now that Zidane has left.

Perez pushed to sign Bale from Spurs in 2013 and the Welshman has been a favourite of the Madrid president. With Zidane gone and no obvious next destination for Bale, the smart money looks to be on him remaining at the Bernabeu.

Manchester United have been strongly linked with a transfer, but Bale’s age, wage packet and transfer fee could an issue for the club. Bale earns a reported £650,000-a-week and United made a massive financial outlay on Alexis Sanchez in January, making him the highest-paid player in the Premier League.

Bale may see his future at the Bernabeu now that Zidane has left, as his first preference has always been to stay with the club.