Gareth Bale risked incurring the wrath of Real Madrid with his celebration of Wales' Euro 2020 qualification.

Wales – semi-finalists at Euro 2016 – booked their ticket to next year's European Championship with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday.

Aaron Ramsey's double in Cardiff ensured Wales leapfrogged Hungary and clinched the second automatic qualifying spot in Group E.

Bale and his team-mates celebratedly wildly post-game, with the former Tottenham talisman particularly catching the eye.

Tipped to leave Madrid and criticised for his priorities amid his love for golf, Wales fans have adopted the chant, "Wales, golf, Madrid", which has been heard during the international break.

And on Tuesday, Bale was seen celebrating in front of a Wales flag with the words: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

Gareth Bale ribbed Aaron Ramsey over his fitness record after the Juventus man fired Wales to the Euro 2020 finals with a brace in the 2-0 win over Hungary.

Needing victory to progress as automatic qualifiers from Group E at Hungary's expense, Ramsey marked his first start of an injury-ruined campaign with a headed opener from Bale's 15th-minute cross.

The former Arsenal favourite was on the mark again early in the second half as Wales made it back-to-back European Championship qualifications.

"It’s about time he contributed, isn't it?" Bale told Sky Sports.

"Obviously he's a world-class player, you like to have him back. He showed again what a great player he is, scoring the goals that helped us through."

Wales were the surprise package of Euro 2016, with Ramsey and Bale to the fore as they reached the semi-finals.

Now both senior members in an increasingly youthful squad under Ryan Giggs, Ramsey was desperate to secure another outing on the biggest stage.

"We had the best time of our lives in France," he told Sky Sports. "We missed out on the [2018] World Cup, so it was a big effort.

"I missed a lot of this campaign but it's all worthwhile. Chipping in with a couple of goals is amazing.

"It means everything. We inspired a nation last time out. We wanted to do it again.

"There are some players here who haven’t experienced this. We wanted to give them a taste of it as well. We've got a great squad, a lot of great players coming through."

Speaking alongside Bale, Ramsey added: "There's still some life left in our legs yet. We're enjoying it. We'll enjoy tonight now as well."

Gareth Bale believes the euphoric feeling of Wales' run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 will spur Ryan Giggs' side on against Hungary.

Following a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on Saturday, Wales head into their final qualifying match knowing a win will be enough to secure a place at Euro 2020.

Bale scored three goals at the previous finals as Wales - with Chris Coleman in charge - reached the last four in France, going out to eventual champions Portugal.

The Real Madrid forward has claimed Wales can use the experiences gained from three years ago, plus their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, as inspiration heading into Tuesday's crucial clash in Cardiff.

"I think we can use both of [the experiences] to our advantage," Bale told a news conference.

"We have got the kind of euphoria of qualifying for our first Euros and doing so well at the competition that we really want to do that again.

"We've also got the negatives of knowing how it feels to miss out on qualifying for a tournament like we did with the World Cup.

"We can see how we don't want to feel after the game. We know prior to this game we can push and push not to feel like that again, because it's not a feeling you want in the dressing room after the game.

"The experience of qualifying for the Euros was massive and something I've never done before and to do it again might be a bit more impressive.

"It's going to stand in equal stead as last time, but we can't think about that just yet. We have another important match first and we have to focus on that as a team and a squad."

Giggs confirmed on Monday that Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who has been hampered by a thigh problem, are both ready to start against Hungary.

"I'm ready. I hadn't played in four weeks so it was important to get 60 minutes into my legs and get some match sharpness," Bale added.

"We spoke at the start of the week about trying to get 60 minutes and hopefully being a couple [of goals] up before I came off, so it worked out well, no problems, and I'm ready to go for Tuesday."

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are ready to start for Wales in Tuesday's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Hungary, manager Ryan Giggs has confirmed.

Real Madrid forward Bale made his first appearance in a month in the 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Saturday, a result that kept alive Wales' hopes of qualifying automatically for next year's tournament.

Bale, who has been struggling with a calf injury, was replaced in the second half by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has been hampered by recent thigh trouble.

Giggs expects to be able to have both players in the starting line-up for the first time in their qualifying campaign when they face Hungary in Cardiff, a match in which the winners will secure a place at the Euro 2020 finals.

"We've got a few players who played 90 minutes for the first time against Azerbaijan, so it is important they get the recovery in over the next few days," Giggs said on Monday.

"The lads who got minutes needed minutes. It's a bit of a balancing act, the players I know who can't play 90 minutes - that will obviously influence the selection.

"Yeah, [Bale and Ramsey] are both ready to start. Gareth and Aaron, with Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu, all players who haven't had an awful lot of football, got the minutes they needed.

"We were able to get Gareth off and it was important to get Aaron on the pitch. Everyone in the squad is available to start."

Giggs has challenged his players to capitalise on the good fortunate of Croatia's win over Slovakia on Saturday.

The World Cup finalists came from a goal down to win 3-1 and book their own place at Euro 2020, while also ensuring Wales and Hungary have their fates in their own hands.

"We had the high of winning the game but when Slovakia go ahead you are fearing the worst, but Croatia are fantastic at home," Giggs said.

"They showed their quality. We needed favours and we got those favours. Now it is time for us to capitalise.

"It's in our hands. It's a great, exciting challenge for us but we need to finish the job – it will be a very, very difficult game."

With Barcelona and Real Madrid keen to strengthen their defences, one Inter star is attracting interest.

Milan Skriniar is reportedly wanted by LaLiga champions Barca and Spanish rivals Madrid.

Will Inter be able to retain the centre-back?

 

TOP STORY – SKRINIAR WANTED BY LALIGA GIANTS

Barcelona and Real Madrid have set their sights on Inter defender Skriniar, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Skriniar – contracted to Inter until June 2023 – has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since moving to Milan from Sampdoria in 2017.

The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked to the 24-year-old Slovakia international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are desperate to strengthen their squad and ESPN claims the Premier League side have an eight-man shortlist, which includes Leicester City's James Maddison, Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Salzburg's goalscoring machine Erling Haaland, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, as well as Aston Villa pair Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United are monitoring Sporting CP's Matheus Pereira, who is on loan at Championship outfit West Brom. It comes as The Sun reports the Red Devils could sign Gareth Bale and send Paul Pogba to Real Madrid.

- Bild says Borussia Monchengladbach have no plans to sell midfielder Denis Zakaria in January. Zakaria has reportedly attracted interest from United, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and others.

Manchester City are circling Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi, according to Calciomercato. Sensi moved to Inter on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo and the 24-year-old has starred at San Siro.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are looking at Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier and Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri amid their injury crisis in Turin.

- Brescia sensation and Italy international Sandro Tonali is being chased by Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, reports Corriere di Torino.

Could Jose Mourinho find a new home at a third Premier League club?

According to one report, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager is keeping a close eye on Tottenham and the uncertainty that lingers over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

The potential of a job opening in north London might even lead to him turning down a big-name former employer.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO SETS SIGHTS ON SPURS

Jose Mourinho has told friends he is "confident" of being offered a return to Real Madrid but may hold out for the Tottenham job, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane is in his second stint in charge of Madrid, while Mauricio Pochettino has spent more than five years at the Spurs helm.

The report suggests it is the latter position that Mourinho covets more, meaning he "would not necessarily accept" another spell in the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could launch a January move for Gareth Bale, reports The Sun. According to the newspaper, Real Madrid know of United's interest in Wales winger Bale and would be happy to let him leave the Santiago Bernabeu, providing they can do a deal that involves Paul Pogba moving in the other direction.

- Spanish outlet ElDesmarque reports news that could complicate any Bale-Pogba exchange, stating that although Madrid are indeed keen on France playmaker Pogba, so too are the player's former club Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to be supportive.

Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be United's strongest rivals for Jadon Sancho and the Ligue 1 side could make a surprise play for another England international. The Mirror claims PSG are interested in poaching Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana on a free transfer. His contract is due to expire in 2020.

- Premier League champions Manchester City will look to sign Kingsley Coman from Bayern Munich if Leroy Sane agrees on a move to the Bundesliga giants, according to Sky Sports. Coman, 23, joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, initially on loan.

- Mainz are seeking a new head coach and the Bundesliga club are reported to be targeting former Cologne boss Achim Beierlorzer. Kicker reports Mainz want a new face in charge by early next week, and Beierlorzer is said to be in the frame. The club sit in the relegation zone after eight defeats in 11 games this term. Beierlorzer would be making a rapid return to bench duty if he lands the job, having left Cologne on November 9.

Ryan Giggs is hopeful of starting Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Hungary after using both players in the win over Azerbaijan.

Bale made his first appearance in a month on Saturday as Wales eased to a 2-0 victory in Baku that ensures their bid to qualify automatically for next year's tournament will go down to the final game.

The Real Madrid forward has been carrying a calf injury and lasted an hour before being replaced by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has also struggled for playing time of late due to a thigh problem.

Giggs has yet to have both players on the pitch during qualifying but is optimistic of that changing against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday,

"We've still got to assess them," he said at his post-match news conference. "Getting Gareth off pretty early on and giving Aaron some minutes helped.

"Aaron showed his quality when he came on, but it's a quick turnaround. Gareth was blowing a little bit, which is understandable, but hopefully I'll have the option of starting both on Tuesday."

Wales are now unbeaten in four Group E games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, while Slovakia are a point behind ahead of their game in hand against Croatia later on Saturday.

Victory for Wales against Hungary, coupled with Slovakia failing to take maximum points from their remaining two matches, would be enough for Giggs' men to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

"We've had four good performances in a row, which we needed after the two difficult games in the summer," Giggs said. "We needed to be strong and we have been. 

"I was not happy with the number of corners we gave away, but they never really troubled us in open play and we could have scored a few more goals.

"Depending on the Croatia-Slovakia score, it sets us up nicely for Tuesday's game."

Kieffer Moore doubled his goals tally in a Wales shirt with a 10th-minute opener at Bakcell Arena, while Harry Wilson was also on target in the first half of a comfortable away victory.

It was Wales' first away win since October 2018 and Giggs added: "Some of our play was outstanding.

"Since the Azerbaijan game at home we've improved. We've played some difficult teams but overall the performances have improved. 

"We started to gain some sort of momentum, which isn't easy in international football. The lads came into camp really confident. It doesn't matter who's come in, they've all contributed. 

"It's not an easy place to come, so it's up there with one of our best performances."

Gareth Bale has further risked the wrath of Real Madrid's notoriously vociferous support by acknowledging he gets more excitement playing for Wales than Los Blancos.

Bale, 30, joined Madrid for a then world-record fee reported to be worth €100million in 2013 and enjoyed significant success at the club, winning every competition, including four Champions League titles.

In the most recent of those Champions League successes in 2017-18, Bale scored a vital brace as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but despite his haul of trophies at the club, fans never truly took to the winger, who has also had issues with coach Zinedine Zidane.

He has received particular criticism for his inability to speak Spanish and a perceived commitment to golf ahead of Madrid, with the Spanish media often focusing on the latter.

And Bale can expect further scorn from Madrid fans and the media after freely admitting on international duty that he unequivocally prefers playing for his country, who he is away with despite not playing at club level since suffering an injury in Wales' last get together.

"I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale told reporters on Friday ahead of facing Azerbaijan.

"I've been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It's normal.

"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn't change what I do on the pitch.

"I always give 100 per cent on the pitch wherever I am, that's what I always strive to do."

Despite the vilification he is often forced to put up with in Spain, Bale insists he takes it all in good humour because he believes many of those criticising have no idea what they are talking about.

"I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me," Bale said.

"On one it said triple bogey, and I have never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.

"Some of the things I have seen… people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So, I just find it quite funny."

Bale accepts that it might look curious from Madrid's perspective that he is fit to feature for Wales again after a month out of action domestically, but he insists it is a coincedence.

"I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said. "Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes, but I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.

"I've done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quickly as I can. We've done 11v11 to try and get some match fitness in me.

"If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play. Maybe to them it doesn't look great, but it's just a coincidence that the national team comes around this week.

"Everyone knows how passionate I am about Wales. We always look to not just qualify for one, we want to qualify for multiple tournaments.

"It's important not just for the here and now, but for the future of Welsh football. It will inspire kids again and hopefully make more kids play football and make our national team better for the future."

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane hopes to have Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez fit and available after the international break.

Muscle problems will keep both players out of Saturday's LaLiga game against Eibar despite them being called up to their respective national teams.

Wales winger Bale has not played a minute since a Euro 2020 qualifier close to a month ago, while midfielder James has missed Madrid's past three matches.

The pair have started individual fitness programmes but will not be considered for selection until they are able to complete full training sessions alongside the rest of the first team.

"They haven't been fit enough to play," Zidane said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"If they're going to go [away on international duty], they're going to go. They've got five or six days to see if they're fit enough to play for their country. They're not fit enough to play on Saturday.

"They haven't trained with the team. They've been training a little but not at the same pace as their team-mates. If players aren't training with their team-mates they can't play.

"They're not injured right now."

Bale's injury occurred in the same international fixture that left Croatia midfielder Luka Modric with bruising to his right quadriceps.

The 34-year-old subsequently sat out two club games, leaving Zidane wary of a repeat as his squad prepares to disassemble.

"Hopefully nothing happens, but it could. It's true in the last call-ups the players got injured," he said.

"Hopefully the players get away with the national teams, they play, and there are no injuries, and everyone comes back fit and available."

Amid the probe over why Bale and James have been absent, Zidane was asked to clarify his recent claim that Kylian Mbappe harbours a "dream" of playing for Madrid.

The Los Blancos boss said that he was simply repeating the Paris Saint-Germain star's own acknowledged ambition.

The comment riled PSG sporting director Leonardo, who called for an end to transfer speculation surrounding Mbappe.

Zidane said: "He's within his rights to have his opinion and when I get asked a question I will also say what I believe.

"All I said was what [the player] said, that Mbappe's dream is to one day wear the Real Madrid shirt. There's not really much to it to be honest."

Zinedine Zidane wants Gareth Bale to remain a Real Madrid player for at least the rest of the campaign.

Bale was heavily linked with a move to Jiangsu Suning during the close season but the deal fell through and he remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Reports this week suggested Madrid will offer Manchester City £70million (€81m) and the 30-year-old in exchange for Raheem Sterling.

However, Zidane has no doubt Bale has an important role to play for Madrid beyond the January transfer window.

"I want Gareth to stay here until the end of the season," Zidane told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League home game against Galatasaray.

"People keep saying that I want him to leave in January, it's nonsense. Our fans have to think positively, as the player wants to be with us.

"He has returned here and wants to recover, but he simply hasn't recovered yet."

Bale has not featured for Madrid for a month, having sustained an injury during Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia on October 13.

Despite that fact, Bale has been named in the Wales squad for crunch Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary, with Ryan Giggs stating the winger had assured him he would arrive ready to play.

"He's not training normally, so we'll see on a day-to-day basis. His country has a right to pick him, it's a FIFA date so we can't do anything about that. But what the player wants is to be fit and ready," said Zidane.

"He's been back training in the last week and we'll see if he's ready to play for his national team, but the shame for us at the moment is he's not ready to play for us."

Zidane denied he has strained relationship with Bale, adding: "We say, 'Good morning' to each other every day.

"I love all my players. We can't all have the same close relationship but I've never had any problem with Gareth, even when there was talk of him leaving. I'm happy with him.

"You [the media] need to stop always saying the same thing or asking me about him leaving matches early, because I used to do the same.

"The important thing is that he was with the team before the match and at half-time to support them.

"You look for things that aren't there. He wants to see the team win, I have no doubts about that."

Gareth Bale has been included in the Wales squad for their final two Euro 2020 qualifiers despite still being out of action for Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old winger continues to train alone in the Spanish capital but Ryan Giggs is preparing to gamble on his fitness for this month's make-or-break games against Azerbaijan and Hungary.

Bale has not played a minute for Madrid since limping through the final stages of Wales' 1-1 draw against Croatia on October 13.

Giggs said the suspected calf problem appeared to be cramp but Madrid have not confirmed the exact nature of the issue.

Wales are likely to need a maximum six points to have any chance of pipping Hungary, their opponents in Cardiff on November 19, to the second qualifying spot in Group E.

Up first is a trip to Baku to face bottom-placed Azerbaijan on November 16.

Aaron Ramsey could make his first appearance of the qualification campaign in that match after recently overcoming a thigh injury.

The midfielder appeared off the bench in a 1-0 win for Juventus over Torino on Saturday.

 

Wales squad in full:

Adam Davies, Wayne Hennessy, Danny Ward; Ben Davies, Chris Gunter, Tom Lockyer, Chris Mepham, James Lawrence, Regan Poole, Connor Roberts, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams; Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu, Dylan Levitt, Joe Morrell, Aaron Ramsey, Matthew Smith, Will Vaulks; Gareth Bale, Daniel James, Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo, Kieffer Moore, Tyler Roberts, Sam Vokes, Harry Wilson.

 

Raheem Sterling dreams of playing abroad and could be about to get his wish.

Real Madrid reportedly want to sign the Manchester City star after succeeding in their attempts to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

To make the deal happen, the Spanish giants are ready to send Gareth Bale back to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – SANTIAGO BERNABEU CALLING FOR STERLING

China continues to loom as the likeliest escape route for Gareth Bale, but Real Madrid might just have a different destination in mind.

According to Sky Sports, Madrid are preparing to offer the Wales winger plus £70million in a bid to prise Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.

Whether the Premier League champions have any interest in 30-year-old Bale is another matter, while the long-term contract extension Sterling signed last November gives them a strong bargaining position.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh speculation linking Kylian Mbappe to Zinedine Zidane's Madrid will prompt Paris Saint-Germain to offer the France forward an enticing new deal worth around €40million per season, Le Parisien reports. Mbappe has just over two years left on his current contract.

PSG are not just busy attempting to tie down their own players. De Telegraaf claims the Ligue 1 champions are one of three clubs expressing interest in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. Tottenham and Manchester United have also reportedly made contact with the 23-year-old's agent.

- Chelsea have identified several big-name January targets if their transfer ban is lifted at an appeal hearing later this month. Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Lyon striker Moussa Dembele are the primary targets according to The Telegraph, which also lists Ben Chilwell and Nathan Ake among the names interesting Frank Lampard.

- Rade Krunic, one of AC Milan's better performers in the weekend loss to Lazio, will not be allowed to leave the club on loan, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina boss Robert Prosinecki advising him to seek more playing time. Calciomercato say the recent Rossoneri signing is part of Stefano Pioli's plans and will be staying put at San Siro.

The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Zinedine Zidane insists he is not obliged to recall Gareth Bale to the Real Madrid team as soon as possible in order to convince him to stay at the club.

The Wales star's future has again come into doubt after he travelled to London this week reportedly to meet with his agent, Jonathan Barnett.

Speaking after the 5-0 win over Leganes on Wednesday, Zidane stressed he still has a good working relationship with Bale, who has not played for Madrid since October 5 after suffering a knock on international duty.

Zidane says the forward is now back training with the Madrid squad but does not agree he must rush Bale back into action in order to show the player that he has a future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"The subject is in the past. He is here and he's on the pitch, bit by bit, training," Zidane told reporters on Friday ahead of the LaLiga clash with Real Betis.

"We're with him in order for him to get back in the team. Nothing more.

"I don't have to do anything. I don't have to convince him about anything because he's here. He's training, he's still not available, but he's here at Real Madrid."

While Bale's future remains unclear, Madrid continue to be linked with a possible move for Paul Pogba, who was tipped to move to the Spanish capital in the previous transfer window.

With the France midfielder having stayed at United while Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro have all had injuries this season, Federico Valverde has taken his opportunity to impress at the heart of Zidane's side.

However, the Madrid boss does not consider Valverde to be a player in exactly the same mould as Pogba.

"I don't look at him like that. He's a very young player, who has a lot of future and present. He's doing well," Zidane said.

"I'm not surprised by him or anyone else, either. He's an important player in the squad. There are 25 first-team players and that's that."

The 5-0 win over Leganes was another match in which Eden Hazard was unable to add to his solitary Madrid goal since his move from Chelsea before the start of the season.

But Zidane has dismissed the notion that the Belgium star is "shy" when it comes to going for goal.

"I don't think he's shy," Zidane said. "He sees things many others don't see, so sometimes he tries the pass rather than the shot.

"Everyone wants to see Hazard scoring goals. He looks better every day."

Luka Modric insists friend and team-mate Gareth Bale fits in well at Real Madrid and enjoys being at the club.

Rumours linking the Wales international with a move to the Chinese Super League have resurfaced as the January transfer window draws nearer.

He almost left for Jiangsu Suning during the close season, only for Madrid to reportedly cancel the deal at the last minute.

Zinedine Zidane tried to force him out amid suggestions Bale has failed to embrace Spanish culture but, speaking ahead of Wednesday's LaLiga game against Leganes, the head coach claimed his winger is still happy at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Star midfielder Modric, who swapped Tottenham for Madrid a year before Bale, holds the same view.

"Gareth and I are very similar. We are shy and sometimes we don't talk much," Modric told Club del Deportista.

"Gareth speaks and understands Spanish, and there is a good atmosphere and he gets along very well with his team-mates and is delighted to enjoy Madrid and the best club in the world.

"Of course, everyone enjoys their own way and you have to respect their way of being. He is exemplary with his behaviour. I get along very well with him."

Fresh speculation surrounding Bale's future arose following his meeting with agent Jonathan Barnett in London on Monday.

Zidane said the trip was "personal reasons" and that Madrid knew of his plans.

Approached for comment by a Spanish broadcaster, Barnett added that Bale is completely content at the club.

"Gareth Bale is delighted to play for Real Madrid," he told Deportes Cuatro.

Bale, 30, has not featured for Los Blancos since suffering an injury – initially suspected to be cramp – while playing for Wales against Modric's Croatia on October 13.

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