I count on them 100 per cent – Zidane offers Bale, James olive branch

By Sports Desk August 11, 2019

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have "100 per cent" of his backing but refused to rule out their sales before the end of the transfer window.

Bale and James have been strongly linked with the Madrid exit throughout the close season, but so far the club have been unable to shift them.

James has been interesting Napoli and Atletico Madrid following his return after two years on loan at Bayern Munich, while Bale almost joined Chinese side Jiangsu Suning last month before the move collapsed.

Colombia international James has not featured once in pre-season for Madrid, while Bale missed their previous three games before coming on as a substitute in Sunday's penalties defeat to Roma, a game that finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.

Zidane is adamant both players can consider themselves part of the squad, though he did little to clarify the future of either.

"James and Bale are players of the squad," Zidane told reporters after the match in Rome. "They are both registered, but anything can happen and I, as a coach of Real Madrid, must count on them.

"I count on them 100 per cent. James has not been summoned [to the squad recently], but this can change. Even before the end of the transfer window, everything can happen."

Although the new season starts next weekend in Spain, the transfer window will remain open until September 2, giving Madrid plenty of time to bring in further additions.

Neymar and Paul Pogba are two players linked with the club, but Zidane was in no mood to entertain speculation.

When asked about Pogba and Neymar, Zidane said: "We are with what we have and we only think about that. Our mind is only thinking about Saturday [the match against Celta Vigo]."

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    - According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

    - Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

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    - Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

    Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

  • Gattuso: Napoli in training retreat after hitting rock bottom Gattuso: Napoli in training retreat after hitting rock bottom

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    Napoli's season hit a new low after Saturday's defeat against Fiorentina – a third consecutive Serie A loss leaving Gattuso's side languishing in 13th position.

    Gattuso has lost four of his first five league matches in charge since replacing Carlo Ancelotti in December as frustration grows and tension builds.

    Now, Napoli are going into a training retreat ahead of games against Lazio and Juventus, revealed head coach Gattuso post-match.

    Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis took legal action when first-team stars reportedly rebelled against a training retreat during Ancelotti's tenure earlier this season.

    "I spoke to the squad and they made the decision to go into a training retreat from this evening," Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia. "It was their decision. We can't underestimate any detail. We need to look each other in the eye, stay together and say what needs to be said.

    "We have to find solutions, because what we're doing right now is not enough."

    Runners-up last season and in 2017-18, Napoli have looked a shadow of themselves – lacking energy, creativity and passion.

    "We must first and foremost apologise to the fans and the whole city, because the performance was embarrassing," Gattuso told DAZN.

    "In the past we had decent performances, but here other than the first 20-25 minutes, there was a lot that needed work.

    "We can't look for alibis, we have hit rock bottom here and need to find out what is happening. It looks as if we just met this morning, put the jerseys on and went on to the pitch. There is no organisation or unity, we are all at sea.

    "It's strange, because the team trains hard during the week and does well, then we get out there on match day and don't do anything. We're sluggish, we let the opposition through, we create little. Nothing worked this evening and it's only right we take responsibility for that.

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    Atleti suffered only their third LaLiga defeat of the season at Ipurua, Esteban Burgos scoring after just 10 minutes before Edu Exposito made the points safe heading into second-half injury time.

    It was the first time Atleti had lost a competitive game against Eibar since a meeting in the second tier in 2001, and it leaves them eight points behind league leaders Real Madrid.

    Simeone felt they were punished for a slow start to the game, a habit that gave him great concern in the autumn and one he hopes does not continue in 2020.

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    "We lost a half. Back in October, we were losing halves and we've gone back to doing that. It's my responsibility.

    "It's a very difficult pitch. We've won here 1-0 or 2-1. Today was a similar game. They take advantage of our inattentiveness in the first half and we could have scored in the second.

    "We didn't control the game, nor was there any great dominance of the opposition, but we didn't play. They played as ever, with intensity, really clear ideas – the concepts a team needs. I congratulate them."

    Saul Niguez, who played at left-back, also admitted concern about the way Atleti too often start matches slowly.

    "We struggled a lot at the start. They created three chances and got the goal from the third," he said.

    "There have been many times this season when we haven't started games well.

    "I think the end of the first half and the beginning of the second were good, but they defended well. We didn't manage to create clear chances despite getting to the byline several times.

    "After the good run we were on, it's a tough blow."

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