Bale, James left out of Real Madrid's squad for Salzburg friendly

By Sports Desk August 07, 2019

Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez were both left out of Real Madrid's squad for Los Blancos' friendly against Salzburg on Wednesday.

Unsettled forward Bale was on the verge of a move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last month, but the proposed deal collapsed.

Bale did not feature in Madrid's last pre-season friendly – a 5-3 win over Fenerbahce on July 31 – having been left out of their squad for the Audi Cup due to illness.

The 30-year-old was spotted golfing, however, while Madrid were in action against his former club Tottenham a day earlier.

It does not appear a transfer is imminent for Bale, with agent Jonathan Barnett previously telling Omnisport his client will remain at Santiago Bernabeu despite a clear breakdown in his relationship with Zinedine Zidane.

Although seemingly being fit for selection, Bale has not been included in Madrid's 20-man squad for the meeting with Austrian champions Salzburg.

Bale is not the only big name to miss out, with James – who has not featured at all in Madrid's pre-season after two campaigns on loan at Bayern Munich – also not included.

Napoli and Atletico Madrid have both declared their interest in the Colombia playmaker, though no breakthrough has yet been made in a deal with either club.

Close-season signings Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Eder Militao do feature, though Ferland Mendy is out with a hamstring injury.

Related items

  • Pablo Mari arrives in London ahead of expected Arsenal move Pablo Mari arrives in London ahead of expected Arsenal move

    Flamengo defender Pablo Mari arrived in London ahead of an anticipated move to Arsenal.

    Mari is expected to join the Gunners on loan with an option to buy – which is reportedly set at £7.5million – after arriving at Heathrow Airport with Arsenal technical director Edu on Saturday.

    The 26-year-old is set to become Mikel Arteta's first signing since taking over as head coach in December.

    Mari joined Manchester City in 2016 but never played for the first team, leaving for Flamengo last July after loan stints at Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna.

    The 26-year-old was a key figure under Jorge Jesus, who led the Rio de Janeiro giants to the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores titles.

    He also featured when Flamengo lost the Club World Cup final against Liverpool 1-0 after extra time.

    Arsenal have been keen to bolster their defensive options following injuries to Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac.

  • Sarri admits Juve job could be his last as he relishes return to Napoli Sarri admits Juve job could be his last as he relishes return to Napoli

    Maurizio Sarri has indicated he could retire from football at the end of his Juventus reign.

    The former Chelsea boss is in his 30th year as a coach and has arguably reached the highest point of his career by taking charge of the Italian champions.

    As he prepares Juventus to tackle his former team Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday, Sarri revealed he may not look for another job in the future.

    Asked whether he could see himself ever returning to Napoli, the 61-year-old told reporters: "After this experience I could even quit: it depends on what energy I have left and if I think I can do well again. These aren't things I'm thinking about at this moment."

    But when asked again if he would not stay in coaching until the age of 70, Sarri, who signed a three-year deal with Juventus in June 2019, said it would depend on whether he still felt challenged by the game.

    "Pressure is a false myth: external pressure must not influence you, but if your motivation is lost then it is better to stop," Sarri said.

    "I don't know if at the end of my contract with Juventus I will be the same Sarri: if yes, I will continue. Otherwise, no."

    Sarri's Juventus lead the way in Serie A, possessing a four-point cushion over second-placed Inter heading into the weekend.

    He twice led Napoli to second-placed finishes and is puzzled by the Naples side's struggles this season.

    Sitting 11th in the table before the 21st round of fixtures, the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti and appointment of Gennaro Gattuso as head coach in December has yet to bring about a significant turnaround in fortunes.

    A Coppa Italia victory over Lazio in midweek may mark a turning point or prove a blip in a difficult campaign.

    Sarri, though, thinks Napoli are a better unit than their results suggest.

    He said: "Napoli are a strong team that even in difficult moments can be dangerous in a one-off game. They have a position that doesn't reflect their performance. And they will have great motivation.

    "Napoli have changed from Ancelotti to Gattuso. They are working to improve their solidity because they remain ever dangerous in the attacking phase."

    He added: "For me, it's clearly a special game, but you shouldn't spend your energy on a personal point of view when the collective goal is what matters: to bring home the three points in a difficult match.

    "It is true that Napoli's position is strange, because they are first in terms of ball possession and have other excellent statistics, but they haven't obtained the points that reflect what they have done so far."

    Title rivals Inter are looking to bring in Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen from Tottenham, but Sarri appears unflustered by the prospect of the Nerazzurri strengthening with such an acquisition.

    "Certainly he is a player of great stature," said Sarri. "But from here to think that he can change the balance of a championship, that is a next step.

    "And we don't care: we have to focus only on ourselves, knowing we are competitive."

  • I'll always defend my Madrid players – Zidane stands by Bale I'll always defend my Madrid players – Zidane stands by Bale

    Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale is not a trouble-causer at Real Madrid, with the coach adamant he will always back his players.

    Bale has become a target of vitriol from Madrid's fans and sections of the Spanish media in recent seasons, with the Wales forward – who has also struggled with injuries – having often fallen down the pecking order.

    The 30-year-old also incurred the wrath of the local press and Los Blancos support when he celebrated with a flag bearing the message "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER" following Wales' qualification for Euro 2020.

    Having scored in Madrid's 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday, Bale will not be available for Sunday's LaLiga encounter with Real Vallodolid due to an ankle injury.

    But, when asked why he has defended the player in the past, Zidane stated he has no issues with Bale, who has scored just three goals this season.

    "I always defend my players. It's not that I need to. They train every day, they work hard and want to defend the Real Madrid badge," Zidane told a news conference.

    "So I don't share the same opinion. It's true he's had a few injuries but you can't do anything when a player is injured.

    "Hopefully he can string together more games, a few training sessions, get minutes under his belt and get back into playing and training at the same pace as his team-mates.

    "When he is fit we want him to come back and be in good shape. It is a shame. He is not happy because he wants to be training with the side."

    Zidane also refuted the suggestion Bale had exaggerated his injury as to not play against Vallodolid.

    "I am always worried when a player is injured, it's something I don't like to see," Zidane said.

    "I have 25 players here and it is tough to me because I have to pick a side, but I don't want players injured. Gareth's injury isn't serious, a slight sprain and he'll be back soon.

    "You're entitled to think what you want, but when I am with the player, I have spoken to him and he wants to be with the team and wants to play, but the other day he suffered a slight injury."

    Another Madrid player who is recovering from injury is Eden Hazard, who has returned to individual training. However, Zidane was unable to confirm if the Belgium international would be fit to feature against Atletico Madrid on February 1.

    "I can't confirm a comeback date as he has just started training with the ball. There is very little or no pain there now," Zidane said.

    "He will no doubt improve and hopefully be back with the team soon. It is excellent for the player to be able to train with the team, it's good for his morale and confidence, but I can't confirm a date."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.